Ryegrass breeding - balancing trait priorities

A. Stewart, Richard Hayes

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaper

200 Citations (SciVal)


In all ryegrass breeding programs it is necessary to select for a range of traits and cultivar types, varying in ploidy and flowering time. The traits selected in ryegrass breeding can be broadly grouped into production traits such as yield, quality and persistence; those seed production traits crucial for delivery of the cultivar, as well as thos traits that can genefit the environment or allow ryegrass to be used for biofuel production. The priority placed on each trait will depend on their economic value within the various farming systems where each cultivar will ultimately be used, as well as the potential to make genetic gain in each trait. In all cases multiple trait selection will be required to develop a cultivar improved for key traits of interest but importantly the cultivar must not have unacceptable performance for any trait. Where the genetic variation is inadequate within perennial ryegrass it may be necessary to enhance ryegrass diversity. In the future this could be achieved through targeted introgression from closely related Festuca species, or through introduction of genes via genetic modification. Funding of ryegrass breeding internationally will increasingly be subject to the economic success of a few larger seed companies as Government funding of field based breeding is diminishing and shifting focus to more basic research, often of a molecular nature. Ensuring this expensive Basic Research and associated molecular technologies are used effectively in ryegrass programs will remain a challenge when seed companies operating field based programs are vulnerable to considerable economic pressure.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages15
Publication statusPublished - 2010
EventTEAGASC International Conference, 'Grasses for the Future - Perennial ryegrasses: current and future genetic potential, Cork, Ireland - Silver Springs Moran Hotel and Teagasc, Moorepark Research Centre, Cork, Ireland
Duration: 14 Oct 201015 Oct 2010


ConferenceTEAGASC International Conference, 'Grasses for the Future - Perennial ryegrasses: current and future genetic potential, Cork, Ireland
Period14 Oct 201015 Oct 2010


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