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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service


Location: Crop Genetics and Breeding Research

2009 Annual Report

1a. Objectives (from AD-416)
To develop and evaluate bermudagrass, napiergrass, pearl millet, and rhizoma peanut for forage production and for alternative uses in the southeastern U.S.; to enhance bioenergy production from warm-season grasses; and to apply molecular genetic technology to improve grass species adapted to the southeastern U.S.

1b. Approach (from AD-416)
Develop and select improved populations and germplasms of bermudagrass for forage, bioenergy, and turf; develop and select improved populations and germplasms of napiergrass for forage and bioenergy; develop and select improved populations, inbreds, and hybrids of pearl millet for forage, bioenergy, and wildlife; and select improved rhizoma peanut germplasms for forage. Evaluate genotype and production effects on ethanol production from pearl millet; assess genotypic differences in bermudagrasses, napiergrass, and pearl millet for conversion to fermentable product or through thermochemical techniques to syngas; and improve selection efficiency for superior forage and cellulosic feedstocks. Measure genetic diversity within bermudagrass, napiergrass, and pearl millet using molecular markers; and identify associations of molecular markers in bermudagrass and pearl millet with traits important for forage or alternative uses.

3. Progress Report
Goal is to develop improved grass and forage legume germplasm and varieties that can be more efficiently converted into livestock, bioenergy, and bioproducts that can be produced in a variety of environments. Activities focused on the genetic improvement of pearl millet, napiergrass, bermudagrass, and rhizomatous peanut for forage, bioenergy, and alternative uses. Bermudagrass populations were established and assessed for recurrent selection for yield and for mapping cell wall traits. The bermudagrass core collection was established and evaluated in the first-year for differences in shade tolerance for agroforestry settings. A bioassay was conducted for a second year to assess genetic variation in bermudagrass for fall armyworm. A core group of bermudagrass were assessed for differences in vitro dry matter disappearance, cell wall components, and ethanol production and equations for near infrared spectrometry assessment of quality were established. A second napiergrass population for recurrent selection for yield was established and evaluated for yield. Experimental pearl millet varieties and inbreds were evaluated in multilocation yield trials to identify those with superior yield, disease, and pest resistance. Two hybrids were identified with greater than 30% greater yield over the commercial standard. Inbreds used in developing these hybrids were characterized for release. These varieties were evaluated to assess genotype by environment interaction for proximate composition and fermentation to ethanol. No-till practices were evaluated to improve production economics for pearl millet. A rhizomatous peanut experiment was assessed for establishment, winterhardiness and yield. Genetic polymorphisms in bermudagrass were analyzed and published, and performed for napiergrass. A mapping population of pearl millet was characterized for diversity of molecular markers for genetic mapping studies.

4. Accomplishments

Review Publications
Anderson, W.F., Gates, R.N., Hanna, W.W., Blount, A., Mislevy, P., Evers, G. 2009. Recurrent restricted phenotypic selection for improving stand establishment of bahiagrass. Crop Science 49:1322-1327.

Anderson, W.F., Maas, A.L., Ozias-Akins, P. 2009. Genetic variability of a forage bermudagrass core collection. Crop Science 49:1347-1358.

Anderson, W.F., Casler, M.D., Baldwin, B.S. 2008. Improvement of perennial forage species as feedstock for bio-energy. In: Vermerris, W., editor. Genetic Improvement of Bioenergy Crops. New York, NY: Springer. p. 309-346.

Last Modified: 05/22/2017
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