Exploitation of interspecific diversity for monocot crop improvement

Julie King, Ian Peter Armstead, John Albert Harper, Luke Ramsay, John Snape, Robbie Waugh, Caron Louise James, Ann Myfanwy Thomas, Dagmara Gasior, Rhys Owen Kelly, Luned Ann Roberts, Perry Gustafson, Ian King

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

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In many cultivated crop species there is limited genetic variation available for the development of new higher yielding varieties adapted to climate change and sustainable farming practises. The distant relatives of crop species provide a vast and largely untapped reservoir of genetic variation for a wide range of agronomically important traits that can be exploited by breeders for crop improvement. In this paper, in what we believe to be the largest introgression programme undertaken in the monocots, we describe the transfer of the entire genome of Festuca pratensis into Lolium perenne in overlapping chromosome segments. The L. perenne/F. pratensis introgressions were identified and characterised via 131 simple sequence repeats and 1612 SNPs anchored to the rice genome. Comparative analyses were undertaken to determine the syntenic relationship between L. perenne/F. pratensis and rice, wheat, barley, sorghum and Brachypodium distachyon. Analyses comparing recombination frequency and gene distribution indicated that a large proportion of the genes within the genome are located in the proximal regions of chromosomes which undergo low/very low frequencies of recombination. Thus, it is proposed that past breeding efforts to produce improved varieties have centred on the subset of genes located in the distal regions of chromosomes where recombination is highest. The use of alien introgression for crop improvement is important for meeting the challenges of global food supply and the monocots such as the forage grasses and cereals, together with recent technological advances in molecular biology, can help meet these challenges.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)475–483
Number of pages9
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 16 Jan 2013


  • Introgression mapping
  • comparative mapping
  • recombination
  • interspecific diversity
  • monocots
  • SNP markers
  • Interspecific diversity
  • Monocots
  • Comparative mapping
  • Recombination
  • Sorghum/genetics
  • Lolium/genetics
  • Synteny
  • Genetic Variation
  • Hordeum/genetics
  • Festuca/genetics
  • Microsatellite Repeats
  • Genetic Linkage
  • Chromosome Mapping/methods
  • Gene Transfer, Horizontal
  • Meiosis
  • Triticum/genetics
  • Genome, Plant
  • Brachypodium/genetics
  • Chromosomes, Plant
  • Genetic Engineering/methods
  • Crops, Agricultural/genetics
  • Polymorphism, Single Nucleotide


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