Skip to main content
ARS Home » Northeast Area » Washington, D.C. » National Arboretum » Floral and Nursery Plants Research » Research » Research Project #434132

Research Project: Enhancement of Turfgrass Germplasm for Reduced Input Sustainability

Location: Floral and Nursery Plants Research

Project Number: 8020-21000-075-00-D
Project Type: In-House Appropriated

Start Date: Feb 6, 2018
End Date: Mar 24, 2019

Objective 1: Evaluate the potential of Danthonia spicata for turf use and establish the level of genetic diversity in the species for drought and low fertility tolerance. Objective 2: Develop Agrostis germplasm with enhanced tolerance to biotic and abiotic stresses by improving methods to transfer desirable traits through interspecific hybridizations. Objective 3: Sequence and assemble the genomes of high priority turf species (In collaboration with other ARS turf scientists) to facilitate establishing the genetic basis for improved resistance to biotic and abiotic stresses.

Identify, characterize, and develop grass germplasm suitable for turf uses with improved heat tolerance, disease tolerance, drought tolerance, water-use efficiency, and salt tolerance using conventional and molecular methods to improve the germplasm enhancement process. Emphasis will be placed on heat tolerance and disease resistance through the period of this project plan. Identify molecular markers and construct linkage maps of bentgrass (Agrostis spp.) that identify regions that impact heat tolerance. Work will also be conducted through cooperative agreements on low maintenance turfgrass species such as Koeleria macrantha and Danthonia spicata. Identify genetic markers for bentgrass foliar disease resistance to (dollar spot) and use them to select highly resistant Agrostis germplam. Construct comparative maps to align genomes of selected forage and turf plants with cereal food crops and utilize this information to improve grass genetic resources. Collect germplasm from natural grasslands of species having potential as turfgrasses; collaborate with forage, rangeland, and turfgrass scientists to identify, locate and collect germplasm. Study establishment, persistence, and survival under different management strategies, and resistance to pests and diseases. Determine presence of endophytes, and whether endophytes affect resistance to pests, diseases, or environmental stresses. Examine physiology under different stresses and inputs to determine genetic mechanisms of resistance to biotic and abiotic stresses. Develop molecular markers from segregating populations, to allow introgression of desirable genes into germplasm with other valuable traits. Identify and isolate genes for resistance to pests and pathogens for potential genetic engineering of adapted selections. Create intra-specific, inter-specific, and inter-generic hybrids with superior turfgrass characteristics.