Grass Genomics & Genetics

Lead Research Organisation: Aberystwyth University
Department Name: IBERS


Lolium/Festuca introgression and genomics is a core area of research within IBERS and has relevance to basic and applied science within the national and international monocot community. The research is enabling us to: elucidate the organisation of genes along Lolium and Festuca species chromosomes; determine the relationship between gene distribution and recombination; allow comparisons to be made between genome organisation in a small genome species, i.e. rice, and Brachypodium, and large genome monocots such as wheat and oats; determine the genetic control of key traits; provide a resource for gene isolation via chromosome landing; and facilitate, through the development of orthologous markers, the assembly of information from other monocot crop species that will greatly increase our knowledge of the genetic control of target traits thus facilitating the development of superior plant varieties. The high frequencies of genome recombination, extensive genetic variation, access to diverse climatic and edaphic adapted species ecotypes and natural hybrids within the Lolium/Festuca complex, together with the capability to produce fertile hybrids, enables opportunities for developing novel grass genotypes and environmentally adapted phenotypes. Evolved genome changes within the diverse Lolium/Festuca complex that led to adaptation and subsequent speciation provides an insight into monocot crop design to combat climatic and edaphic stresses. Plant breeding strategies that take account of the whole grass ecosystem are employed to develop novel and efficient forage grass phenotypes. This is achieved by integrating genotyping, phenotyping and introgression mapping for improved root designs, water and nutrient-use-efficiency, C-sequestration, soil structure and hydrology.
Description This funding was for a departmental research programme initially at IGER and then at IBERS and included work such as grass genetics and molecular biology. The outcomes of this programme have previously been reported to BBSRC and I am only able to report on my own area of research which is introgresion mapping in the grasses - see below. In this research programme we transferred the entire genome of pratensis into Lolium perenne in small overlapping segments. This represents the largest introgression programme ever undertaken in the monocots. This germplasm and the genetic markers developed have provided a platform for identification of traits in grassland research and also provided the genetic markers which have led to the physical mapping of the Lolium genome. This funding was for a adepartmental research programme initially at IGER and then at IBERS
Exploitation Route They have been used for identifying the genetic control of target traits and the physical mapping of the Lolium genome.
Sectors Agriculture, Food and Drink

Description The lines are being used through the determination of the genetic control of target traits to 1) develop superior grass varieties that are adapted to the environment and environmental change and 2) to the physical mapping and the future sequencing of the Lolium genome.
First Year Of Impact 2009
Sector Agriculture, Food and Drink
Impact Types Economic