Designing grasses with a future - combining the attributes of Lolium and Festuca

Huw M. Thomas, W. Gareth Morgan, Michael W. Humphreys

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

54 Citations (SciVal)


Lolium species (considered the ideal grasses for European agriculture) are not sufficiently robust to meet many of the environmental challenges that face extensive agriculture in less favoured areas. Fortunately, adaptations to abiotic and biotic stresses exist amongst Festuca species related closely to Lolium. The complex of species has an enormous wealth of genetic variability and potentiality for genetic exchange, thus offering unique opportunities for the production of versatile hybrid varieties with new combinations of useful characters suited to modern grassland farming. The attributes of Lolium and Festuca can be combined into a single genotype by amphiploidy or alternatively, a limited number of characters can be selectively introgressed from Festucainto Lolium or vice versa. Androgenesis of the interspecific hybrids can generate genotypes combining characters that may not be recovered by sexual backcrossing. Genomic in situ hybridization(GISH) can differentially ‘paint’ the chromosomes of Lolium and Festuca and identify Lolium-Festuca recombinant chromosomes. GISH is valuable in the analysis of amphiploids, introgressions and androgenic genotypes and can be used to physically map introgressed traits. Introgression mapping is a powerful new approach to the mapping of traits and arises from a fusion of physical and genetic mapping. For example, in a diploidLolium introgression genotype with only one introgressed Festucasegment, the gene(s) for any Festucaderived trait expressed by the plant must be located within the segment. Using GISH and molecular markers, a dense but highly localised map of the Festuca segment is made in isolation of the Loliumgenome – this may simplify QTL analysis.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)19-26
Number of pages8
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2003


  • amphiploid
  • androgenesis
  • GISH
  • introgression
  • Lolium-Festuca
  • mapping
  • stress resistance


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