Breeders select for trait to conserve drinkable water
Plants need water. People need water. Unfortunately, there’s only so much clean water to go around — and so the effort begins to find a solution.
Luckily for people, some plants are able to make do without perfectly clean water, leaving more good water for drinking. One strategy is to use treated wastewater, containing salt leftover from the cleaning process, to water large areas of turf grass. These areas include athletic fields and golf courses. Golf courses alone use approximately 750 billion gallons of water annually in arid regions.
However, most plants cannot tolerate a lot of salt. As some areas of the United States run low on clean water, plant breeders are trying to breed plants that are more salt tolerant. This would conserve clean water while maintaining healthy turf.
Plant breeders can actually see the individual effect of what each parent plant passes on because the genes add intensity to the trait. These are additive effects. Breeders can more easily select for those features when they observe those differences.
“We found through a series of experiments that salt tolerance in perennial ryegrass is highly controlled by additive genetic effects rather than environmental effects,” said Stacy Bonos from Rutgers University. “This is great news for breeders because we now know salt tolerance can be more easily bred for.”
Bonos and her team measured salt tolerance using visual percent green color. This is the percentage of the plant that is green and actively growing as compared to brown, which would indicate that it is dead or dying.
“As a plant is affected by salinity it will start to turn brown,” explained Bonos. “It is an indication of their salt tolerance if they can continue to grow and have green tissue while the others turn straw colored and brown and start to die.”
Bonos and her team also conducted a series of experiments to confirm salt tolerance. One test looked at broad-sense heritability. This showed that the trait for salt tolerance has more genetic components than environmental ones.
“But there are a lot of things that make up the genetic components so we (also) use narrow-sense heritability to focus in on those components and see if they are mostly additive,” Bonos explained. “In this case they were and that’s important because as a breeder it means you can select for them.”
Two further experiments determined how successfully genetic factors pass to the plant’s offspring. For example, two plants may combine to pass on tolerance, but one of those parents may not pass on that same strong influence in a different cross. This gives breeders an estimate of which parents are better to use in crosses and confirms what type of gene effects are influencing salinity tolerance.
Bonos said the results show that when it comes to salt tolerance, additive gene effects are more important.
“All three of these experiments were really just different ways of getting to the same place and they all confirmed each other,” she said.
Bonos and her team are working to concentrate these genes for salt tolerance so turf grass can use more wastewater and less fresh water. They hope to eventually breed a marketable grass with high tolerance.
“It has the biggest implication for golf courses because there are some courses now that are required to water their grasses with wastewater instead of drinkable water,” she said. “That's where it most makes sense, especially in areas like Las Vegas where there may not be much drinkable water available to water your lawn. That's a prime example.”
Bonos works in the Department of Plant Biology & Pathology at Rutgers University. Her work was recently published in Crop Science. The research was funded by the United States Golf Association, OJ Noer Foundation, International Turf Producers Foundation, New Jersey Turfgrass Foundation, the Rutgers Center for Turfgrass Science and the New Jersey Agricultural Experiment Station.
Public and Science Communications Director
Susan Fisk | newswise
Studies show integrated strategies work best for buffelgrass control
12.12.2019 | Cambridge University Press
The tips of a plant design its whole shape
09.12.2019 | Eberhard Karls Universität Tübingen
More than one hundred and fifty years have passed since the publication of James Clerk Maxwell's "A Dynamical Theory of the Electromagnetic Field" (1865). What would our lives be without this publication?
It is difficult to imagine, as this treatise revolutionized our fundamental understanding of electric fields, magnetic fields, and light. The twenty original...
In a joint experimental and theoretical work performed at the Heidelberg Max Planck Institute for Nuclear Physics, an international team of physicists detected for the first time an orbital crossing in the highly charged ion Pr⁹⁺. Optical spectra were recorded employing an electron beam ion trap and analysed with the aid of atomic structure calculations. A proposed nHz-wide transition has been identified and its energy was determined with high precision. Theory predicts a very high sensitivity to new physics and extremely low susceptibility to external perturbations for this “clock line” making it a unique candidate for proposed precision studies.
Laser spectroscopy of neutral atoms and singly charged ions has reached astonishing precision by merit of a chain of technological advances during the past...
The ability to investigate the dynamics of single particle at the nano-scale and femtosecond level remained an unfathomed dream for years. It was not until the dawn of the 21st century that nanotechnology and femtoscience gradually merged together and the first ultrafast microscopy of individual quantum dots (QDs) and molecules was accomplished.
Ultrafast microscopy studies entirely rely on detecting nanoparticles or single molecules with luminescence techniques, which require efficient emitters to...
Graphene, a two-dimensional structure made of carbon, is a material with excellent mechanical, electronic and optical properties. However, it did not seem suitable for magnetic applications. Together with international partners, Empa researchers have now succeeded in synthesizing a unique nanographene predicted in the 1970s, which conclusively demonstrates that carbon in very specific forms has magnetic properties that could permit future spintronic applications. The results have just been published in the renowned journal Nature Nanotechnology.
Depending on the shape and orientation of their edges, graphene nanostructures (also known as nanographenes) can have very different properties – for example,...
Using a clever technique that causes unruly crystals of iron selenide to snap into alignment, Rice University physicists have drawn a detailed map that reveals...
03.12.2019 | Event News
15.11.2019 | Event News
15.11.2019 | Event News
12.12.2019 | Physics and Astronomy
12.12.2019 | Physics and Astronomy
12.12.2019 | Life Sciences