Page Banner

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

2010 Annual Report


1a. Objectives (from AD-416)
Evaluate and develop new germplasm and cultivars with enhanced seed production, germination, seedling vigor, salinity tolerance, winter hardiness, drought tolerance, and forage yield and quality and verify their ability to improve the sustainability and productivity of rangelands and pastures in the semiarid western U.S. • Objective 1: Collect, characterize, and evaluate grass, legume, and forb germplasm for genetic variation, adaptation, establishment and forage characteristics for use on Western rangelands and the rangeland-urban interface. • Objective 2: Describe and identify useful traits for improved forages, using physiological, biochemical, and genomic techniques. • Objective 3: Identify breeding and selection strategies to make plant selection more effective. • Objective 4: Develop germplasm/pre-variety germplasm/cultivars of grasses, legumes, and forbs with improved seed production, seedling establishment, forage production, persistence, and drought tolerance on rangelands of the Western U.S. • Objective 5: Develop and evaluate new plant cultivars that are more tolerant of biotic and abiotic stresses, more competitive, more persistent, and easier to establish and maintain in irrigated pastures in the Intermountain West. • Objective 6: Identify functional differences between invasive weeds and improved plant materials and evaluate potential methods and improved plant materials to diversify crested wheatgrass communities.


1b. Approach (from AD-416)
Combine expertise of a research team of plant breeders, plant physiologists, ecologists, and molecular biologists to acquire, characterize, and breed native and introduced range, pasture, low-maintenance turf, and bioenergy plant materials. There is a need for additional plant materials for the conservation, restoration, renovation, and reclamation of range and forage lands, including irrigated pastures. New releases will provide improved plants needed to establish and maintain economically and environmentally sustainable pastures and rangelands in the semiarid regions of the Intermountain West. Identify new sources of genetic diversity for cultivar development. Describe establishment of grasses, legumes, and forbs characteristics such as ability to sustain high quality forage on disturbed sites under grazing pressure when competing with invasive weeds, and important physiological and biochemical mechanisms. Molecular and cytogenetic approaches will be used to identify and characterize genetic mechanisms to improve efficiency of genetic enhancement and plant breeding. The competitive ability of released plant materials will be enhanced for traits such as seed germination, seedling vigor, rhizome development, salinity tolerance, drought tolerance, and forage quality and yield. The new plant materials will be evaluated for their improved ability to perform key ecological functions, satisfying the diverse needs of our customers. Evaluate potential invasiveness of new plant germplasm.


3. Progress Report
Breeding efforts at the Forage and Range Research Laboratory (FRRL) to collect, characterize, evaluate, and develop improved plant materials for turf, pastures, and rangelands adapted to the western United States continues in native and introduced legumes (spreading alfalfa, prairie clovers, cicer milkvetch, Kura clover, sainfoin, birdsfoot trefoil, and Utah sweetvetch), forbs (globemallow, small burnet, and forge kochia), dryland range grasses (crested and Siberian wheatgrass (WG), bluebunch WG, thickspike WG, Snake River WG, western WG, Russian wildrye (WR), bottlebrush squirreltail, and slender wheatgrass), irrigated pasture grasses (tall fescue, orchardgrass, meadow brome, timothy, and creeping foxtail), and low-maintenance turf grasses (bluegrasses, fine fescues, and crested WG). Traits of interest include increased forage yield and quality (CP, NDF, IVTD, and lignin), seed yield, germination, establishment, drought tolerance (persistence), heat tolerance, water stress, salinity tolerance, abiotic stresses, and turf quality. Irrigated pastures work has resulted in the development of two experimental orchardgrass synthetics (early maturing and late maturing), currently under a CRADA. Seed collections from Kyrgyzstan, China, and Russia were evaluated for their potential for reduced-input turfgrass applications. Over 200 bluebunch wheatgrass collections from the Great Basin were evaluated for germination and seedling emergence. Field and DNA-fingerprinting studies describing patterns of genetic diversity for western and Searls prairie clover, North American wildryes, and fine fescues. DNA genotyping of an Elymus genetic mapping population with AFLP and SSR microsatellite markers resulted in a consensus genetic map of Elymus lanceolatus that contains all 14 linkage groups. Genetics tools including EST-SSR markers continue to be developed in wildryes (Leymus sp.), wheat grasses (Elymus sp.), Thinopyrum sp., orchardgrass (Dactylis sp.), and bluebunch wheatgrass (Pseudoroegneria sp.) for rhizome development, flowering, heavy metal uptake, plant height, winter hardiness, and salinity tolerance. Phenotypic measurements to determine the affect of marker-assisted selection for the seed-retention gene in advanced Leymus breeding populations were measured. DNA finger printing protocols to differentiate species of mannagrass from annual ryegrass and populations of Poa sp. were developed. As part of our technology transfer program, the FRRL continues to work via Material Transfer Agreements with private growers to evaluate improved genetic material and increase commercial seed production of western and Searls prairie clover and Recovery western wheatgrass for commercial seed production. Foundation seed production of a rhizomatous grazing/rangeland alfalfa was initiated. Three different ecosystems in the Great Basin were evaluated using paired sets of historically dry-farmed land and adjacent areas that have never been cultivated. This research identified that land-use legacies of dry farming have striking consequences on vegetation recovery for nearly a century after cultivation has ceased.


4. Accomplishments


5. Significant Activities that Support Special Target Populations
During 2010, the Forage and Range Research Lab conducted on outreach program that included speakers from FRRL and surrounding University Extension Specialists. These sites included Kanab UT; St. George UT; Dillon MT; Billings MT; and Ritzville WA. These programs addressed the following subjects; pasture grasses and legumes, adaptation of rangeland plants (grasses, forbs, and legumes), when and how to plant rangelands, and seeding mixtures. Attendance at each meetings ranged from 25 to 180 and included ranchers, farmers, and public land agencies. Distributed at each program were handouts and the ‘Intermountain Planting Guide’. Given the response of the last four years to program survey’s we will continue to go out each year.


Review Publications
Robins, J.G. 2010. Cool-Season Grasses Produce More Biomass Across the Growing Season than do Warm-Season Grasses when Managed with an Applied Irrigation Gradient. Biomass and Bioenergy. 34:500-505.

Robins, J.G., Brummer, E.C. 2010. QTL Underlying Self-Fertility in Tetraploid Alfalfa. Crop Science. 50:143-149.

Behera, T.K., Behera, S., Bharathi, L.K., John, J., Simon, P.W., Staub, J.E. 2010. Bitter Gourd: Botany, Horticulture, Breeding. Plant Breeding Reviews (J. Janick ed.) 37:101-141. Wiley-VCH, Koln, Germany.

Behera, T.K., Staub, J.E., Behera, S., Mason, S. 2010. Response to Phenotypic and Marker-Assisted Selection for Yield and Quality Component Traits in Cucumber (Cucumis Sativus L.). Euphytica. 171:417-425.

Robins, J.G., Bushman, B.S., Waldron, B.L., Johnson, P.G. 2009. Variation within Poa Germplasm for Salinity Tolerance. HortScience. 44:1517-1521.

Arredondo, J.T., Johnson, D.A. 2009. Root Responses to Short-Lived Pulses of Soil Nutrients and Shoot Defoliation in Seedlings of Three Rangeland Grasses. Rangeland Ecology and Management. 62:470-479.

Perry, L.G., Blumenthal, D.M., Monaco, T.A., Paschke, M.W., Redente, E.F. 2010. Immobilizing nitrogen to control plant invasion. Oecologia. 163:13-24.

Mackown, C.T., Jones, T.A., Johnson, D.A., Monaco, T.A., Redinbaugh, M.G. 2009. Nitrogen uptake by perennial and invasive annual grass seedlings: Nitrogen form effects. Soil Science Society of America Journal. 73:1864-1870.

Perez-Quezada, J.F., Saliendra, N.Z., Akshalov, K., Johnson, D.A., Laca, E.A. 2010. Land-Use Influences Carbon Fluxes in Northern Kazakhstan. Rangeland Ecology and Management. 63: 82-93.

Larson, S.R., Scheuring, C., Kaur, P., Cliften, P.F., Mott, I.W., Bushman, B.S., Dong, J.J., Zhang, Y., Zhang, X., Wang, R. 2009. BAC Library Development for Allotetraploid Leymus (Triticeae) Wildryes Enable Comparative Genetic Analysis of Lax-Barrenstalk1 Orthogene Sequences and Growth Habit QTLs. Plant Sci. 177:427-438. doi:10.1016/j.plantsci.2009.07.006.

Jensen, K.B., Waldron, B.L., Peel, M., Robins, J.G. 2010. Nutritive Valve of Herbage of Five Semi-Irrigated Pasture Species Across an Irrigation Gradient. Grass and Forage Science. 65:92-101.

Gilmanov, T.G., Johnson, D.A., Svejcar, A.J. 2010. Productivity, Respiration, and Light-Response Parameters of World Grassland and Agro-Ecosystems Derived from Flux-Tower Measurements. Rangeland Ecology and Management. 63: 16-39.

Jones, T.A., Monaco, T.A., James, J.J. 2010. Launching the Counterattack: Interdisciplinary Deployment of Functional Traits to Repair Damaged Intermountain Rangelands. Rangelands. Vol 32, pages 32-37.

Cuevas, H.E., Song, H., Staub, J.E., Simon, P.W. 2010. Inheritance of Beta-Carotene-Associated Flesh Color in Cucumber (Cucumis Sativus L.) Fruit. Euphytica. 171(3):301-311.

Jones, T.A. 2009. Dormancy-Status Pool Dynamics in Indian Ricegrass. Rangeland Ecology and Management. 62:284-289.

Larson, S.R., Culumber, C.M., Schweigert, R.N., Chatterton, N.J. 2009. Species Delimitation Tests of Endemic Lepidium Papilliferum and Identification of other Possible Evolutionarily Significant Units (ESUs) in the Lepidium Montanum Complex (Brassicaceae) of Western North America. Conservation Genetics. 11:57-76.

Jones, T.A., Monaco, T.A. 2009. A Role for Assisted Evolution in Designing Native Plant Materials for Domesticated Landscapes. Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment. 7:541-547.

Polley, H.W., Emmerich, W., Bradford, J.A., Sims, P.L., Johnson, D.A., Saliendra, N.Z., Svejcar, T., Angell, R., Frank, A.B., Phillips, R.L., Snyder, K.A., Morgan, J.A. 2010. Physiological and environmental regulation of interannual variability in CO2 exchange on rangelands in the western United States. Global Change Biology. 16:990-1002.

Smith, J.F., Stillman, A.J., Larson, S.R., Culumber, C.M., Robertson, I.C., Novak, S.J. 2009. Phylogenetic Relationships Among Lepidium Papilliferum. The Journal of the Torrey Botanical Society. 136:149-163.

Peel, M., Waldron, B.L., Mott, I.W. 2009. Ploidy Determination and Agronomic Characterization of NPGS Small Burnet Germplasm. Crop Science. 49:1359-1366.

Polley, H.W., Emmerich, W., Bradford, J.A., Sims, P.L., Johnson, D.A., Saliendra, N.Z., Svejcar, T., Angell, R., Frank, A.B., Phillips, R.L., Snyder, K.A., Morgan, J.A., Sanabria, J., Mielnick, P.C., Dugas, W.A. 2010. Precipitation regulates the response of net ecosystem CO2 exchange to environmental variation on U.S. rangelands. Rangeland Ecology and Management. 63:176-186.

Xu, S.S., Jin, Y., Klindworth, D.L., Wang, R., Cai, X. 2009. Evaluation and Characterization of Seedling Resistances to Stem Rust Ug99 Races in Wheat-Alien Species Derivatives. Crop Science. 49:2167–2175.

Waldron, B.L., Eun, J., Zobell, D.R., Olson, K.C. 2010. Forage Kochia (Kochia Prostrata) for Fall and Winter Grazing. Small Ruminant Research. 91:47-55.

Gunnell, K.L., Monaco, T.A., Call, C.A., Ransom, C.V. 2010. Seedling Interference and Niche Differentiation Between Crested Wheatgrass and Contrasting Native Great Basin Species. Rangeland Ecology and Management. 63:443-449.

Chen, D., Peel, M., Olson, K.C., Weimer, B.C., Dewald, D.B. 2009. Differential Ruminal Degradation of Alfalfa Proteins. Canadian Journal of Plant Science. 89:1065-1074.

Cuevas, H.E., Staub, J.E., Simon, P.W. 2010. Inheritance of the Quantity of ß-carotene and Fruit Maturity of Melon (Cucumis Melon L.). Euphytica. 171(3):301-311.

Weng, Y., Staub, J.E., Johnson, S., Huang, S. 2010. An Extended Intervarietal Microsatellite Linkage Map of Cucumber, Cucumis Sativus L. HortScience. 45:882-886.

Last Modified: 10/19/2017
Footer Content Back to Top of Page