Special Issue "Breeding and Genetics of Forages for Semi-Arid and Arid Rangelands"

A special issue of Agronomy (ISSN 2073-4395). This special issue belongs to the section "Grassland and Pasture Science".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (31 July 2020).

Special Issue Editor

Dr. Joseph Robins
Website
Guest Editor
USDA-ARS Forage and Range Research Lab., Utah State Univ., Logan, UT 84322, USA
Interests: forage breeding and genetics; genotype by environment interaction

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

Rangelands are the world’s most extensive land cover type. These lands are dominated by grasses, forbs, and shrubs, which are important feed sources for grazing or browsing animals. Rangeland disturbances, including overgrazing and wildfire, result in the loss of perennial plant materials and soil destabilization. To address the effects of these disturbances, land managers seed rangelands to revegetate rangeland sites and improve the forage base for domestic livestock and wildlife. In response to revegetation projects, breeding and genetic programs began with the objective to develop plant materials specifically for the establishment, production, and persistence on these rangeland sites. We invite rangeland breeding and genetic researchers to submit articles for consideration in this Special Issue. Specifically, we seek articles describing (1) germplasm evaluation and enhancement of rangeland species using phenotypic and sequencing approaches; (2) quantitative genetic evaluations of rangeland plant breeding populations, including heritability and genetic by environment interaction studies; and (3) mapping and functional genomic studies to identify genomic regions underlying key traits for rangeland applications.

Dr. Joseph Robins
Guest Editor

Manuscript Submission Information

Manuscripts should be submitted online at www.mdpi.com by registering and logging in to this website. Once you are registered, click here to go to the submission form. Manuscripts can be submitted until the deadline. All papers will be peer-reviewed. Accepted papers will be published continuously in the journal (as soon as accepted) and will be listed together on the special issue website. Research articles, review articles as well as short communications are invited. For planned papers, a title and short abstract (about 100 words) can be sent to the Editorial Office for announcement on this website.

Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a single-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. Agronomy is an international peer-reviewed open access monthly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 1600 CHF (Swiss Francs). Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.

Keywords

  • Genetic gain;
  • Heritability;
  • Genotype by environment interaction;
  • Functional genomics;
  • Herbage;
  • Nutritive value

Published Papers (7 papers)

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Research

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Open AccessArticle
Genotype × Environment Interaction Patterns in Rangeland Variety Trials of Cool-Season Grasses in the Western United States
Agronomy 2020, 10(5), 623; https://doi.org/10.3390/agronomy10050623 - 28 Apr 2020
Cited by 1
Abstract
Rangeland revegetation is necessary to stabilize disturbed sites and increase forage production, but frequently fails due to a variety of environmental and biotic factors. Plant breeding efforts in perennial cool-season grasses result in the development of potential cultivars that must be evaluated in [...] Read more.
Rangeland revegetation is necessary to stabilize disturbed sites and increase forage production, but frequently fails due to a variety of environmental and biotic factors. Plant breeding efforts in perennial cool-season grasses result in the development of potential cultivars that must be evaluated in multi-environment trials to determine their level of adaptation. This study evaluated 49 cultivars for stand frequency and dry matter yield over five years at five environments in the Intermountain and High Plains regions of the United States. The results were significant differences among the included cultivars for both traits across and within environments. Yet, there was also crossover genotype × environment interaction. Thus, highest performing cultivars were to some extent dependent on the environment. Hycrest II crested wheatgrass and Vavilov II Siberian wheatgrass possessed high stand frequency (>80 %) and dry matter yield (>800 kg·ha−1) across environments and within environments except at the Eureka, UT environment where they possessed low stand frequency. These cultivars, and species, also possessed high productivity and stability for both traits. Thus, breeding efforts in the species resulted in widely adapted cultivars that may lack specific adaptation to some environments. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Breeding and Genetics of Forages for Semi-Arid and Arid Rangelands)
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Open AccessArticle
Forage Performance and Detection of Marker Trait Associations with Potential for Napier Grass (Cenchrus purpureus) Improvement
Agronomy 2020, 10(4), 542; https://doi.org/10.3390/agronomy10040542 - 09 Apr 2020
Abstract
The evaluation of forage crops for adaptability and performance across production systems and environments is one of the main strategies used to improve forage production. To enhance the genetic resource base and identify traits responsible for increased feed potential of Napier grass, forty-five [...] Read more.
The evaluation of forage crops for adaptability and performance across production systems and environments is one of the main strategies used to improve forage production. To enhance the genetic resource base and identify traits responsible for increased feed potential of Napier grass, forty-five genotypes from Empresa Brasileira de Pesquisa Agropecuária (EMBRAPA), Brazil, were evaluated for forage biomass yield and feed nutritional quality in a replicated trial under wet and dry season conditions in Ethiopia. The results revealed significant variation in forage yield and feed nutritional qualities among the genotypes and between the wet and dry seasons. Feed fiber components were lower in the dry season, while crude protein, in vitro organic matter digestibility, and metabolizable energy were higher. Based on the cumulative biomass and metabolizable energy yield, top performing genotypes were identified that are candidates for future forage improvement studies. Furthermore, the marker-trait association study identified diagnostic single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNP) and SilicoDArT markers and potential candidate genes that could differentiate high biomass yielding and high metabolizable energy genotypes in the collection. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Breeding and Genetics of Forages for Semi-Arid and Arid Rangelands)
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Open AccessArticle
Genotype and Planting Date Influence on Establishment and Growth of Bassia prostrata (L) A.J. Scott in a Semiarid Subtropical Dry Winter Region
Agronomy 2020, 10(2), 251; https://doi.org/10.3390/agronomy10020251 - 08 Feb 2020
Abstract
Alfalfa (Medicago sativa L.) growers in semiarid subtropical regions seek forage crops having a lower irrigation requirement. Perennial forage kochia (Bassia prostrata (L) A.J. Scott (syn. Kochia prostrata)) can potentially fill this need. The New Mexico State University’s Agricultural Science [...] Read more.
Alfalfa (Medicago sativa L.) growers in semiarid subtropical regions seek forage crops having a lower irrigation requirement. Perennial forage kochia (Bassia prostrata (L) A.J. Scott (syn. Kochia prostrata)) can potentially fill this need. The New Mexico State University’s Agricultural Science Center at Tucumcari evaluated four genotypes of B. prostrata (subspecies virescens ”Immigrant” and “Pustinny-select” and subsp. grisea “Snowstorm” and “KZ-6X”) that were direct-seeded in March and May of 2014 under irrigation in semiarid continental precipitation conditions, in three randomized complete blocks. Canopy cover was rated in 2016 and 2018 and biomass production was measured in 2018. Snowstorm did not establish on either date. Canopy cover remained unchanged across years. Immigrant established the greatest canopy cover for the March seeding and Pustinny-select had greater canopy cover for the May seeding. The May seeding tended (p < 0.10) to have greater biomass production than the March seeding (12,357 and 8909 kg ha−1, respectively, SEM = 2454). Irrigation or adequate precipitation to maintain soil moisture and weed control are critical to B. prostrata establishment by direct seeding, especially in dry winter regions. Further research is necessary to determine the potential of this species as an alternative to alfalfa in semiarid, subtropical, and continental precipitation regions. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Breeding and Genetics of Forages for Semi-Arid and Arid Rangelands)
Open AccessArticle
Evaluation of Different Fall Dormancy-Rating Alfalfa Cultivars for Forage Yield in a Semiarid Environment
Agronomy 2020, 10(1), 146; https://doi.org/10.3390/agronomy10010146 - 19 Jan 2020
Cited by 1
Abstract
Alfalfa is one of the most important, nutritive, and high yielding forage legumes planted across the US. Fall dormancy in alfalfa influences forage yield characteristics and the plants persistence mostly under the cold and temperate climate. The objective of this study was to [...] Read more.
Alfalfa is one of the most important, nutritive, and high yielding forage legumes planted across the US. Fall dormancy in alfalfa influences forage yield characteristics and the plants persistence mostly under the cold and temperate climate. The objective of this study was to evaluate alfalfa cultivars with different fall dormancy-ratings for their forage yield at each cut and the annual forage yield. Two sets of 24 alfalfa cultivars were evaluated in a field experiment conducted at the Agricultural Science Center at Farmington, NM. The first set of 24 cultivars was planted late fall 2007 at seeding rate of 22.4 kg ha−1 and managed for the 2007–2011 period and the second set was planted late fall 2009 and managed during the 2009–2013 period. Average forage yield varied with years from 7.6 to 2.9 Mg ha−1, 6.8 to 4.3 Mg ha−1, 9.2 to 4.2 Mg ha−1, and 7.9 to 3.2 Mg ha−1 during the 1st, 2nd, 3rd, and 4th alfalfa cut, respectively. The results showed no statistical differences between the moderately dormant, dormant, and the non-dormant alfalfa cultivars while they showed higher forage yield than the very dormant and semi-dormant alfalfa cultivars. There was a decreasing trend in forage yield from the first cut to the fourth cut in each growing season. However, the very dormant cultivars showed the lowest forage yield. Alfalfa forage yield decreased from the cut 1 to the cut 4 which represented on average 33, 29, 22, and 16% of the annual yield. The semi-dormant cultivars obtained the lowest forage yield at the first and second cutting while there was no difference between the cultivars for the third and fourth harvests. Average forage yields per harvest were 5.7, 5.9, 6.0, 5.5, and 5.9 Mg ha−1 for the very dormant, dormant, moderately dormant, semi-dormant, and non-dormant alfalfa cultivars, respectively. Annual forage yield varied with alfalfa fall dormancy-ratings and ranged from 15.5 to 29.9 Mg ha−1 with the highest forage yield achieved during the third years of the production. The moderately dormant and the non-dormant cultivars showed the highest yield during the first harvest year while the very dormant cultivars and dormant cultivars had the lowest forage yield. Alfalfa cultivars with a fall dormancy range 4–5 may be considered for alfalfa production in northwest New Mexico however, the good agricultural practices (conservation tillage, fertilizer management based on soil residual available nutrient and crop requirement, recommended planting rate, weed and pest management, irrigation scheduling to match crop evapotranspiration) should be the most important to maximize alfalfa forage yield in the southwest US. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Breeding and Genetics of Forages for Semi-Arid and Arid Rangelands)
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Open AccessArticle
Functional Analysis of Three miRNAs in Agropyron mongolicum Keng under Drought Stress
Agronomy 2019, 9(10), 661; https://doi.org/10.3390/agronomy9100661 - 20 Oct 2019
Abstract
Agropyron mongolicum Keng, a perennial diploid grass with high drought tolerance, belongs to the genus Agropyron, tribe Triticeae. It has made tremendous contributions toward reseeding natural pasture and seeding artificial grassland in China, especially in the arid and semi-arid area of [...] Read more.
Agropyron mongolicum Keng, a perennial diploid grass with high drought tolerance, belongs to the genus Agropyron, tribe Triticeae. It has made tremendous contributions toward reseeding natural pasture and seeding artificial grassland in China, especially in the arid and semi-arid area of northern China. As a wild relative of wheat, A. mongolicum is also a valuable resource for the genetic improvement of wheat crops. MicroRNAs are small non-coding RNA molecules ubiquitous in plants, which have been involved in responses to a wide variety of stresses including drought, salinity, chilling temperature. To date, little research has been done on drought-responsive miRNAs in A. mongolicum. In this study, two miRNA libraries of A. mongolicum under drought and normal conditions were constructed, and drought-responsive miRNAs were screened via Solexa high throughput sequencing and bioinformatic analysis. A total of 114 new miRNAs were identified in A. mongolicum including 53 conservative and 61 unconservative miRNAs, and 1393 target genes of 98 miRNAs were predicted. Seventeen miRNAs were found to be differentially expressed under drought stress, seven (amo-miR21, amo-miR62, amo-miR82, amo-miR5, amo-miR77, amo-miR44 and amo-miR17) of which were predicted to target on genes involved in drought tolerance. QRT-PCR analysis confirmed the expression changes of the seven drought related miRNAs in A. mongolicum. We then transformed the seven miRNAs into Arabidopsis thaliana plants, and three of them (amo-miR21, amo-miR5 and amo-miR62) were genetically stable. The three miRNAs demonstrated the same expression pattern in A. thaliana as that in A. mongolicum under drought stress. Findings from this study will better our understanding of the molecular mechanism of miRNAs in drought tolerance and promote molecular breeding of forage grass with improved adaption to drought. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Breeding and Genetics of Forages for Semi-Arid and Arid Rangelands)
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Review

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Open AccessReview
Breeding of the Crested Wheatgrass Complex (Agropyron spp.) for North American Temperate Rangeland Agriculture and Conservation
Agronomy 2020, 10(8), 1134; https://doi.org/10.3390/agronomy10081134 - 04 Aug 2020
Abstract
Species from the crested wheatgrass (Agropyron spp.) complex have been widely used for revegetation and grazing on North American rangelands for over 100 years. Focused crested wheatgrass breeding has been ongoing since the 1920s. These efforts resulted in the development of 18 [...] Read more.
Species from the crested wheatgrass (Agropyron spp.) complex have been widely used for revegetation and grazing on North American rangelands for over 100 years. Focused crested wheatgrass breeding has been ongoing since the 1920s. These efforts resulted in the development of 18 cultivars adapted to western USA and Canadian growing conditions. These cultivars establish rapidly, persist, and provide soil stabilization and a reliable feed source for domestic livestock and wildlife. To address ecological concerns and increase rangeland agriculture efficiency, crested wheatgrass breeding requires new emphases and techniques. This review covers the history of crested wheatgrass breeding and genetics in North America and discusses emerging methods and practices for improvement in the future. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Breeding and Genetics of Forages for Semi-Arid and Arid Rangelands)
Open AccessReview
Morphological, Physiological, and Genetic Responses to Salt Stress in Alfalfa: A Review
Agronomy 2020, 10(4), 577; https://doi.org/10.3390/agronomy10040577 - 17 Apr 2020
Abstract
Alfalfa (Medicago sativa L.) is an important legume forage crop. However, its genetic improvement for salt tolerance is challenging, as alfalfa’s response to salt stress is genetically and physiologically complex. A review was made to update the knowledge of morphological, physiological, biochemical, [...] Read more.
Alfalfa (Medicago sativa L.) is an important legume forage crop. However, its genetic improvement for salt tolerance is challenging, as alfalfa’s response to salt stress is genetically and physiologically complex. A review was made to update the knowledge of morphological, physiological, biochemical, and genetic responses of alfalfa plants to salt stress, and to discuss the potential of applying modern plant technologies to enhance alfalfa salt-resistant breeding, including genomic selection, RNA-Seq analysis, and cutting-edge Synchrotron beamlines. It is clear that alfalfa salt tolerance can be better characterized, genes conditioning salt tolerance be identified, and new marker-based tools be developed to accelerate alfalfa breeding for salt tolerance. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Breeding and Genetics of Forages for Semi-Arid and Arid Rangelands)
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