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Title: Ecological characterisation of supina bluegrass (Poa supina Schrad.) germplasm from the Italian Alps

item Johnson, Richard
item ROMANI, M

Submitted to: Grass and Forage Science
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 9/1/2010
Publication Date: 12/1/2010
Citation: Pecetti, L., Johnson, R.C., Romani, M., Bassignana, M., Marianna, D.G. 2010. Ecological characterisation of supina bluegrass (Poa supina Schrad.) germplasm from the Italian Alps. Grass and Forage Science. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2494.2010.00766.x.

Interpretive Summary: Supina bluegrass is a perennial cool-season grass native to the Alpine region in Europe. Its stoloniferous habit and outstanding tolerance to traffic and shade make it a promising species for expanded use in athletic fields, golf courses and home lawns, especially in northern latitudes or under cold conditions. However, the availability of genetic resources of supina bluegrass for research and breeding are very limited. As a result, an exploration/collection for P. supina in the Italian Alps was undertaken though the US National Plant Germplasm System (NPGS) in collaboration with the Center for Forage Production and Dairy Research (CRA-FLC), Lodi, Italy. A total of 55 collections of P. supina were made across the eastern, central, and western Italian Alps under wide range of elevation and soil conditions. These new genetic resources will be made available through the NPGS. They appear to represent a wide range of types and are expected significantly strengthen P. supina research and breeding.

Technical Abstract: Supina bluegrass (Poa supina Schrad.) is a potential turfgrass species for cool, northern type climates, yet few genetic resources for research and development are very limited. As a result, a field exploration for P. supina was conduction in the Italian Alps in 2008. Altogether, 55 populations of P. supina were collected of which 17 were from north-east Alps, seven from central Alps and 31 from north-west Alps. Most collections (39 out of 55) were vegetative. Only in 16 collection sites were mature seeds present and could be harvested. Most of the collection sites were between 1800 and 2100 m a.s.l., with a mean altitude of 1964 m a.s.l. The altitude extremes of collection sites were 1290 and 2539 m a.s.l. Collection sites yielding mature seed samplesgenerally occurred at lower altitudes than the entire collection, mostly located between 1600 and 1900 m a.s.l., with a mean of 1759 m a.s.l. Most of the collection sites tended to be level (28%) or undulating (36%), but gently rolling (20%) and sloping sites (16%) were also quite common. The great majority of collection sites (66%) were on disturbed habitats, while grasslands represented about one third (29%) of sites, and only very few populations were collected along field margins. Because of the habitat preference of the collected populations, more than half of them (56%) grew on stony or gravel substrates. Another 25% of populations were found on light-textured soils (sandy and sandy loam), 8% on loam soils and 11% on heavy-textured soils (clay loam and clay). Preliminary field observations suggested that populations collected on stony or gravel substrates may differ in phenology and drought resistance from those collected in grasslands or in moisture- and nitrogen-rich environments. Seed increase of all populations is currently underway in Italy and the USA. Further evaluation in common gardens and molecular marker analysis is needed to test our preliminary observations. This, together with molecular marker should reveal different ecological preferences and distinct evolutionary types.