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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

2013 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 forage, turf, and bioenergy feedstocks in the southern U.S. Project work in FY 2013 focused on the development and utilization of modern molecular tools (known as EST-SSRs) to better define the genetic make-up of two pearl millet and two napiergrass germplasm types and to confirm and genetically characterize hybrids between these two species. Similar techniques were applied to the genetic characterization of other grasses in the genera Pennisetum and Sorghum. This work will result in genetic information that will be foundational to the breeding and improvement of warm-season grasses and to the development of improved cultivars that will be used as forages, turf, and bioenergy feedstocks.


Last Modified: 4/20/2014
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