Western rangelands and pastures require plants that can establish and persist in harsh environments with limited water. FRRL research strives to identify genes (genetic markers) and the genetic mechanisms controlling expression of desirable traits such as growth habit, drought tolerance, salt tolerance, and persistence. These gene markers facilitate plant improvement efforts and increase the efficiency of FRRL breeding programs.
Molecular characterization of plant collections and gene discovery research is conducted to assist efforts to improve plant materials for use on rangeland and pastures of the Western United States.
- Develop EST libraries and molecular genetic maps for inter-specific hybrids of Snake River Wheatgrass (Elymus wawawaiensis)and Thickspike Wheatgrass (Elymus lanceolatus). These materials will facilitate the identification genes and markers associated with plant height, rhizome spreading, biomass, seed shattering, billbug resistance, and other favorable growth traits.
- DNA fingerprinting with AFLP and SSR markers to elucidate population structure and genetic variation within and between collections of alfalfa, and Elymuswheatgrasses, squirreltail grasses, Needle-and-Thread grasses, and Indian Ricegrasses that are adapted to the Western United States.
- Identify genes and/or DNA markers associated with salinity tolerance in alfalfa and other grasses. Measures of differential RNA expression are used to find transcripts responsive to salinity stress.