Skip to main content
ARS Home » Pacific West Area » Logan, Utah » Forage and Range Research » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #407750

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: Association of hard fescue (Festuca brevipila) stress tolerances with genome mapped markers

item Bushman, Shaun
item Robbins, Matthew
item QUI, YINJIE - University Of Minnesota
item WATKINS, ERIC - University Of Minnesota
item HOLLMAN, ANDREW - University Of Minnesota
item MIHELICH, NICOLE - University Of Minnesota
item PETRELLA, DOMINIC - The Ohio State University
item BREULLIN-SESSOMS, FLORENCE - The Ohio State University
item CHOU, MING-YI - University Of Wisconsin
item KOCH, PAUL - University Of Wisconsin

Submitted to: Crop Science
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 11/16/2023
Publication Date: 12/11/2023
Citation: Bushman, B.S., Robbins, M.D., Qui, Y., Watkins, E., Hollman, A., Mihelich, N., Petrella, D., Breullin-Sessoms, F., Chou, M., Koch, P. 2023. Association of hard fescue (Festuca brevipila) stress tolerances with genome mapped markers. Crop Science. 64(2), 1002–1014.

Interpretive Summary: Hard fescue has excellent potential as a low input turfgrass, but requires improvement in shade tolerance and gray snow mold resistance. In order to select for those two traits, we sequenced and assembled a contig-level assembly of a Beacon hard fescue plant. Using that assembly, a panel of 240 hard fescue plants were genotyped and phenotyped, and a genome wide association analysis conducted. We found dozens of significant SNPs for shade tolerance, and three for gray snow mold resistance.

Technical Abstract: Hard fescue is an allo-hexaploid, caespitose, cool-season grass that is part of the fine-leaved ovina complex of the Lolium-Festuca clade in Poaceae. It is predominantly used as a low maintenance turfgrass and soil stabilization grass in situations with reduced inputs of nitrogen and water. While often recommended for use under tree canopies, prolonged foliar shade can thin turf stands and reduce their functionality; furthermore, gray snow mold caused by Typhula incarnata can further affect hard fescue turfgrass functionality. In this study we gathered a diverse population of hard fescue collections and varieties, which fit into four genetic structures. Because no genomic reference sequences exist for this species, a contig-level pseudo-haploid genomic reference was assembled from a plant of the hard fescue variety ‘Beacon’. With 98% BUSCO coverage from 241 contigs, this reference assembly was mapped against to conduct genome wide association analysis. Thirty-eight SNP markers were associated with foliar shade response phenotypes, including SNPs near molybdate transporter and cytochrome P450 genes. Three SNP markers were associated with gray snow mold responses, with one located near a Protein Kinase G11 gene and corresponding to a 20% improvement in gray snow mold resistance.