Skip to main content
ARS Home » Pacific West Area » Logan, Utah » Forage and Range Research » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #377943

Research Project: Improved Plant Genetic Resources and Methodologies for Rangelands, Pastures, and Turf Landscapes in the Semiarid Western U.S.

Location: Forage and Range Research

Title: Using genomic selection to develop performance-based restoration plant materials

item Jones, Thomas
item Monaco, Thomas
item Larson, Steven
item Hamerlynck, Erik
item CRAIN, JARED - Kansas State University

Submitted to: International Journal of Molecular Sciences
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 7/22/2022
Publication Date: 7/27/2022
Citation: Jones, T.A., Monaco, T.A., Larson, S.R., Hamerlynck, E.P., Crain, J.L. 2022. Using genomic selection to develop performance-based restoration plant materials. International Journal of Molecular Sciences. 23(15). Article 8275.

Interpretive Summary: Transformation of dryland ecosystems the Intermountain West region, USA, coupled with projected climatic shifts, warrants a rapid proactive response to prevent the demise of sagebrush-steppe plant communities. Restoring perennial bunchgrasses is essential to sustainably reestablish ecosystem resistance to exotic plant invasions and enhance resilience to environmental stress and disturbance. The performance of perennial bunchgrasses can be enhanced through the selection for specific functional traits to overcome specific abiotic and biotic filters. Trait syndromes can be utilized to identify plant materials most suitable for specific environments. Genomic selection, a recently developed approach that links functional traits to the DNA sequences that control them, can improve the efficiency of native plant material development and generate trait-based populations for testing hypotheses related to plant adaptation.

Technical Abstract: Effective native plant materials are critical to restoring the structure and function of extensively modified ecosystems, such as the sagebrush-steppe of North America’s Intermountain West. The reestablishment of native bunchgrasses, e.g., bluebunch wheatgrass (Pseudoroegneria spicata [Pursh] À. Löve), is the first step for recovery from invasive species and frequent wildfire and towards greater ecosystem resiliency. Effective native plant material exhibits functional traits that confer ecological fitness, phenotypic plasticity that enables adaptation to the local environment, and genetic variation that facilitates rapid evolution to local conditions, i.e., local adaptation. Here we illustrate a multi-disciplinary approach to implement genomic selection and characterize plant materials. Based on DNA sequence, genomic selection is particularly suited to quantitative traits controlled by alleles at many loci, and it allows rapid screening of large numbers of seedlings, even for traits expressed only in more mature plants. This is particularly useful for traits that are expensive or impractical to measure, e.g., persistence. In genomic selection, plants are genotyped and phenotyped in a training population to develop a genome model for the desired phenotype. Central to this model is a battery of plant functional traits that can characterize genotypes and identify plant syndromes. Populations with modified phenotypes can be used to test basic hypotheses regarding relationships of traits to adaptation and to one another. The effectiveness of genomic selection in crop and livestock breeding suggests this approach has tremendous potential for improving restoration outcomes for species such as bluebunch wheatgrass.