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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Research Project: IMPROVED PLANT GENETIC RESOURCES FOR PASTURES AND RANGELANDS IN THE TEMPERATE SEMIARID REGIONS OF THE WESTERN U.S.

Location: Forage and Range Research

Title: Wheatgrass and Wildrye Grasses (Triticeae) (Book Chapter)

Authors
item Wang, Richard
item Jensen, Kevin

Submitted to: Genetic Resources, Chromosome Engineering, and Crop Improvement
Publication Type: Book / Chapter
Publication Acceptance Date: April 23, 2008
Publication Date: January 15, 2009
Citation: Wang, R. R-C., and Jensen, K.B. 2009. Chapter 3: Wheatgrass and Wildryes. In: Genetic Resources, Chromosome Engineering, and Crop Improvement. Vol 5 Forage Crops, Ram J. Singh (ed.), CRC Press, Boca Raton, FL. Pp.41-79.

Interpretive Summary: Depending on the taxonomic treatment, between 200 and 250 wheatgrass and wildrye species have been described worldwide. More than two-thirds are native to Eurasia and from 22 to 30 are considered native to North America distributed throughout the vast prairies of the northern Great Plains of the US and Canada. Relatively few species are found in South America, New Zealand, Australia, and Africa. Wheatgrass and wildrye grasses are generally adapted from subhumid to arid climatic conditions in steppe or desert regions. Both native and introduced forms are used in North American range imrovement programs. In their natural setting, wheatgrass and wildrye grasses are most often found in association with other grasses, sedges, forbs, and shrubs. This chapter describes species origin, distribution, taxonomy, reproductive systems, cytogenetics, breeding for biotic and abiotic stresses, molecular genetic diversity, genetic transformation, interspecific and intergeneric hybridization within the wheatgrasses and wildryes.

Technical Abstract: Wheatgrass and wildrye grasses are valued throughout the temperature regions of the world as forage and habitat for livestock and wildlife as well as for other qualities relating to aesthetics, soil stabilization, weed control, and watershed management in semiarid environments. These perennial grasses are members of the Triticeae tribe, which also includes the cultivated cereal crops including wheat (Triticum spp.), barley (Hordeum spp.), and rye (Secale cereal L.) where they are often hybridized and used as genetic sources for disease resistance, salinity tolerance, and other traits. The majority of wheatgrasses and wildrye originated from Eurasia and/or Asis, from which between 22 and 30 are native to North America. The wheatgrasses and wildryes are broadly adapted to western U.S. rangelands and eastern Central Great Plains. This chapter describes species origin, distribution, taxonomy, reproductive systems, cytogenetics, breeding for biotic and abiotic stresses, molecular genetic diversity, genetic transformation, interspecific and intergeneric hybridization within the wheatgrasses and wildryes.

Last Modified: 8/22/2014
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