Molecular breeding and functional genomics for tolerance to abiotic stress

Michael W. Humphreys, Janet Humphreys, Iain S. Donnison, Ian P. King, Huw M. Thomas, Marc Ghesquiere, J-L. Durand, O. A. Rognli, Zbigniew Zwierzykowski, M. Rapacz

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference Proceeding (Non-Journal item)


Sustainability is a measure of our ability to produce food with the maximium of efficiency combined with the minimum of damage to the environment. Grasslands represent over 40% of all agricultural land in the European Union, and over 70% in the United Kingdom. Whilst Lolium in Europe is considered to be the ideal source of profitable and safe high quality animal forage, its general poor persistency limits its use to favourable growing areas. Fortunately, genes for abiotic stress resistance are transferred readily from closely related Festuca species by conventional breeding technologies. Introgression mapping allows the assembly of desirable gene combinations and molecular markers to assist with their selection in breeding programmes. Additional new androgenesis techniques have led to novel genotypes rarely observed as outcomes of breeding programmes. Lolium × Festuca hybrids display promiscuous chromosome recombination enabling genes from one species to be transferred readily to homoeologous chromosome regions where they both function normally and remain stable. Despite the close homology between Lolium and Festuca species, repetitive DNA sequences differ sufficiently for their genomes to be distinguished, by genomic in situ hybridisation (GISH). This enables the physical mapping of genes for abiotic stress resistance transferred from Festuca to Lolium. Further chromosome recombination between homoeologous Lolium and Festuca sequences enables Festuca introgressions to be “dissected”, and recombination series created. Knowledge of synteny and gene sequences within model species amongst the Poaceae, combined with the development of sequenced molecular markers, and bacterial artificial chromosomes is enabling the isolation of genes for abiotic stress resistance.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationMolecular Breeding of Forage and Turf
Subtitle of host publicationProceedings of the 3rd International Symposium, Molecular Breeding of Forage and Turf
EditorsAndrew Hopkins, Zeng-YU Wang, Rouf Mian, Mary Sledge, Reed E. Barker
PublisherSpringer Nature
Number of pages20
ISBN (Electronic)978-1-4020-2591-4
ISBN (Print)978-1-4020-1867-1
Publication statusPublished - 2004
EventProceedings of the 3rd International Symposium, Molecular Breeding and Forage and Turf - , United States of America
Duration: 18 May 200322 May 2003

Publication series

NameDevelopments in Plant Breeding
PublisherSpringer Netherlands
ISSN (Print)1381-673X


ConferenceProceedings of the 3rd International Symposium, Molecular Breeding and Forage and Turf
Country/TerritoryUnited States of America
Period18 May 200322 May 2003


  • lolium/festuca
  • drought resistance
  • winter hardiness
  • introgression mapping
  • androgenesis
  • precision breeding


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