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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Research Project: Assessment of Rangeland and Turf Grasses for Abiotic Stress Response

Location: Forage and Range Research

2013 Annual Report


1a.Objectives (from AD-416):
The objectives of this cooperative research agreement are: .
1)Analyze the plant nutritional components of fescue grasses with and without fungal endophytes which have been subjected to drought, heat, and salt stress;.
2)Analyze the water soluble carbohydrates of orchardgrass and ryegrass experimental lines which have been subjected to drought and temperature stress; and.
3)Determine the concentration of selenium (Se) and other toxic heavy metals of native plant species after being grown in soils from various degraded mining sites. Results will allow for the identification of novel stress tolerant plant materials that will thereafter be selected for pre-requisite traits (persistence, productivity) for public release.


1b.Approach (from AD-416):
This project will focus on response of native and non-native (introduced) plant species when challenged by several abiotic stresses (drought, salt, temperature, and heavy metals). This research will have field, laboratory, and greenhouse components and will involve the mineral analysis of plant species to define their responses to abiotic stress challenge. The response of plant populations and experimental lines (the result of previous breeding from ongoing plant improvement programs) that have been identified in preliminary experiments to possess tolerance and susceptibility to abiotic stresses will be subjected to stresses in replicated trials and will be prepared for analysis by mass spectrometry. For fine-leaf fescue analysis, clonal plants which are + and - endophytes will be evaluated for their response under controlled field (rainout shelter) and greenhouse (overhead delivery system) for water and salt stress challenge, respectively. For orchardgrass and ryegrass experimentals challenged with water (line source) and temperature (cold) stress, whole and biochemical analysis coupled with near-infrared spectroscopy of leaves will be accomplished by wet chemistry to determine water soluble carbohydrate concentration. For plants subjected to heavy metal challenge either in the field or greenhouse, mass spectrometry will be employed to determine the effect of animal manure, sulfur, and denwoody cap treatments on different forms of heavy metals (e.g., Se in Se overburdened soils).


3.Progress Report:

The objectives of this cooperative research agreement are: .
1)Analyze the plant nutritional components of fescue grasses with and without fungal endophytes which have been subjected to drought, heat, and salt stress;.
2)Analyze the water soluble carbohydrates of orchardgrass and ryegrass experimental lines which have been subjected to drought and temperature stress; and.
3)Determine the concentration of selenium (Se) and other toxic heavy metals of native plant species after being grown in soils from various degraded mining sites. This research will result in the identification of plant materials that can establish, be persistent, and produce forage under biotic and abiotic stress. During FY-2013: This year the SCA centered on objective 3 which focused on identifying plant materials that are tolerant of selenium (Se) frequently found in soil after it has been mined for phosphate. Certain plants accumulated Se in plant tissues or in surrounding water at toxic levels to livestock and wildlife when eaten. The cooperator is primarily responsible for the soil components of the greenhouse and field research while the FRRL focused on identifying plant materials with increased dry matter production, root growth, and decreased selenium (Se) uptake when grown on mine land soils with a concentration of 35 ppm Se at varying cap depths. Preliminary results suggest that the mountain brome, a native grass, and meadow brome, an irrigated pasture grass from Asia, produced the most biomass under all treatments. Root measurements and Se levels are currently being measured. In addition, the cooperator established a series of line transects that went from high levels of Se to low levels and evaluated the different forms of Se in the soil and the associated plant species with their Se uptake levels. Transects will be evaluated over several years to evaluate the effect of the environment on Se uptake in plants.


Last Modified: 8/21/2014
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