Tuesday, November 3, 2009
Convention Center, Exhibit Hall BC, Second Floor
One way to improve the sustainability of cool-season turfgrasses is to identify and develop new species with low-input maintenance requirements. The genus Danthonia is comprised of more than 100 species that are primarily native to temperate regions of the southern hemisphere where they are important forage grasses. Approximately six species of Danthonia are native to the U.S with Danthonia spicata (poverty oatgrass) being the most widespread. D. spicata is a grayish-green mat forming species commonly found growing in dry, poor quality soils. The objective of this research is to explore the potential of Danthonia species as low maintenance turfgrasses and to determine the level of genetic diversity present in native collections of Danthonia from low maintenance turfgrass areas in the Northeast United States. Seed collections were made in the summer of 2006 and used to establish a seeding rate turf trial at the University of Maryland turfgrass research center. In addition, multiple turf maintained Danthonia plants from several different locations were collected in 2007 and 2008 and screened using AFLP markers to determine the level of within and between location genetic variability. The results indicate that an acceptable Danthonia turf can be established utilizing seeding rates at or below 5.2 g/m2. The diversity study indicates that Danthonia has limited within and between population variability; however, low levels of genetic diversity are maintained due to rare outcrosssing events. Future studies will focus on determining an accurate estimate of outcrossing rates in Danthonia and if effective controlled crosses can be made.