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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Research Project: Polyploid Genomics of Perennial Warm-Season Grasses for the Southern United States

Location: Crop Germplasm Research

2012 Annual Report


1a.Objectives (from AD-416):
The objective of this cooperative research project is to develop and utilize informative DNA markers for the characterization of polyploid genomics (structural and functional) relevant to improvement of target warm-season grass species for bioenergy, forage, and turf.


1b.Approach (from AD-416):
Expressed-sequence-tag-simple-sequence-repeats (EST-SSRs) will be developed from DNA sequences and screened to identify informative markers for wild accessions and breeding germplasm of species within the genera Panicum, Pennisetum, Paspalum, Sorghum, and others. For taxa in which little genomic data exists, EST-SSRs will be used to estimate genetic diversity and genome complexity. For those taxa in which hybrid populations exist, suitable EST-SSRs will be used to initiate genetic mapping studies for traits of interest. For taxa in which informative EST-SSRs align to available comparative genomic resources, candidate genes for valuable traits (perenniality, apomixis, etc.) will be investigated for expression, function, and divergence. Results from this research will provide better understanding of evolutionary relationships, marker-trait associations, hybridization limits, and gene function towards breeding improved cultivars, preserving germplasm resources, and enhancing sustainability within agriculture systems.


3.Progress Report:

The goal of this project is to determine the genetic nature and diversity of warm-season grasses that are grown for turf, bioenergy feedstocks, and forages in the southern U.S. Project work in FY 2012 focused on the development of modern genetic tools known as molecular markers for use in characterizing the genetic make-up of five ultra-dwarf bermudagrass and five St. Augustine cultivars. Similar markers were identified in FY 2012 for pearl millet, napiergrass, sorghum, and Johnsongrass; these markers can be used for confirmation of pearl millet/napiergrass hybrid development, and in the characterization of natural Sorghum species hybrids. Work by this project is providing important genetic information that will be foundational in the breeding and improvement of different warm-season grasses and in the development of improved cultivars that will be used as turf, bioenergy feedstocks, and forages. This project was scheduled to expire in FY 2012, but was extended through August 31, 2014.


Last Modified: 9/2/2014
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