Special Issue "Grass Traits for Ecosystem Service and Sustainability"

A special issue of Sustainability (ISSN 2071-1050). This special issue belongs to the section "Sustainable Agriculture, Food and Wildlife".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: 31 July 2020.

Special Issue Editor

Prof. Em. Mike Humphreys
Website
Guest Editor
Institute of Biological, Environmental and Rural Sciences, Aberystwyth University, Aberystwyth, Wales, SY23 3EE, UK
Interests: festulolium; grass cytogenetics; grass breeding and evolution; abiotic stress resistance; ecosystem services; improved efficiency of ruminant nutrition; sustainable crop production

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

Grasslands cover around 70% of the global agricultural land, of which temperate grasslands, both natural and from anthropogenic origins, are a major part. Their management in ways that are economically, environmentally, and culturally sustainable faces various and frequently conflicting external pressures that threaten their perpetuity. Whilst temperate grasslands are major providers of healthy fodder for livestock, serving the meat and milk industries, they are multifunctional and also provide a vital ecosystem service to mitigate climate change, including carbon sequestration and the regulation of the rate of rainfall acquisition and its subsequent release. Perennial grasslands provide a habitat for vast and diverse biotic communities, shape much of our landscape, support fragile rural communities, and aid tourism, amenity, and leisure in many countries. Plant breeding, leading to the introduction of synthetic grass varieties, commenced one hundred years ago, but it has recently become more holistic than before so as to not only encompass traditional forage production for livestock agriculture but also to achieve further positive impacts in terms of the ecosystem service and economic and cultural sustainability. The principal grassland species used in agriculture are in the main outbreeding, perennial, and highly heterogeneous and harbor within their numbers a vast resource of genetic and trait diversity which can, if selected, be used in breeding programs in order to develop novel varieties for a range of important objectives. Where intraspecific variation is not sufficient to generate a required benefit, it may more easily be achieved through species hybridization or use of species mixtures. This Special Issue reviews some of the most important advances in grass trait selections for use in ecosystem service and the opportunities to acquire the range of benefits certain grass communities may provide to seek win-win scenarios and to note the various challenges that grasslands must resist in order to persist and achieve their full potential.

Prof. Em. Mike Humphreys
Guest Editor

Manuscript Submission Information

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Keywords

  • the roles of natural and seminatural grasslands;
  • targets for grass and legume breeding;
  • range of available grassland ecosystem services;
  • challenges to grasslands in a changing climate;
  • grassland resilience;
  • alternative functions of grasslands;
  • importance of grasslands in marginal locations

Published Papers (3 papers)

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Research

Open AccessArticle
Selective Elimination of Parental Chromatin from Introgression Cultivars of xFestulolium (Festuca × Lolium)
Sustainability 2019, 11(11), 3153; https://doi.org/10.3390/su11113153 - 04 Jun 2019
Cited by 1
Abstract
Alien chromosome introgressions can be used to introduce beneficial traits from one species into another. However, exploitation of the introgressions in breeding requires proper transmission of introgressed segments to consecutive generations. In xFestulolium hybrids chromosomes of Festuca and Lolium readily pair and recombine. [...] Read more.
Alien chromosome introgressions can be used to introduce beneficial traits from one species into another. However, exploitation of the introgressions in breeding requires proper transmission of introgressed segments to consecutive generations. In xFestulolium hybrids chromosomes of Festuca and Lolium readily pair and recombine. This opens a way for introgression of traits (e.g., abiotic and biotic stress resistance) from Festuca into elite Lolium cultivars. However, retention of Festuca chromatin in xFestulolium is uncertain as several studies indicated its gradual elimination over generations of sexual reproduction. Here we investigated genome composition in two subsequent generations of four introgression xFestulolium (F. pratensis × L. multiflorum) cultivars using genomic in situ hybridization. We observed about 27–32% elimination of Festuca chromatin in a single round of multiplication. At this pace, Festuca chromatin would be completely eliminated in about four generations of seed multiplication. On the other hand, we observed that it is possible to increase the proportion of Festuca chromatin in the cultivars by proper selection of mating plants. Nevertheless, once selection is relaxed, the first round of the seed multiplication reverts the genome composition back to the Lolium type. Thus, it seems that amphiploid forms of xFestulolium with relatively stable hybrid genomes may be more promising material for future breeding than introgression lines. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Grass Traits for Ecosystem Service and Sustainability)
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Open AccessArticle
The Effect of Fertilizers on Biomass and Biodiversity on a Semi-Arid Grassland of Northern China
Sustainability 2019, 11(10), 2854; https://doi.org/10.3390/su11102854 - 20 May 2019
Abstract
Semi-arid grassland in northern China faces degradation and desertification problems, with fertilizer application appearing to be a potential solution by improving soil fertility and plant fields or biodiversity. In this study, mineral and organic fertilizers were used in a semi-arid natural grassland in [...] Read more.
Semi-arid grassland in northern China faces degradation and desertification problems, with fertilizer application appearing to be a potential solution by improving soil fertility and plant fields or biodiversity. In this study, mineral and organic fertilizers were used in a semi-arid natural grassland in Hebei Province for three years. The plant characteristics, biomass and species diversity index were assessed and analyzed. In the years 2016 and 2017, mineral fertilizers (RC) significantly increased the total aboveground biomass and the aboveground biomass, natural height, density and coverage of Leymus chinensis compared with organic fertilizers (RO), especially at a moderate application rate (RC2). Leymus chinensis was first divided into its own group and then separated into four groups via cluster tree analysis. The importance values of Leymus chinensis showed continuous increases in mineral fertilizer treatments, but not for organic fertilizers. Margalef’s species richness indexes increased significantly (to 2.09) in the organic treatment (RO1) when compared with RC2. Thus, it was concluded that mineral fertilizers could enhance the position of Leymus chinensis in the natural grassland, while organic fertilizers could promote species biodiversity. This study also provides recommendations regarding the use of fertilizers for the purposes of increasing plant biomass and biodiversity in semi-arid grasslands of northern China. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Grass Traits for Ecosystem Service and Sustainability)
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Open AccessArticle
Comprehensive Research on Remote Sensing Monitoring of Grassland Degradation: A Case Study in the Three-River Source Region, China
Sustainability 2019, 11(7), 1845; https://doi.org/10.3390/su11071845 - 27 Mar 2019
Cited by 1
Abstract
In this study, we proposed climate use efficiency (CUE), a new index in monitoring grassland ecosystem function, to mitigate the disturbance of climate fluctuation. A comprehensive evaluation index (EI), combining with actual vegetation net primary productivity (NPP), CUE, vegetation coverage, and surface bareness, [...] Read more.
In this study, we proposed climate use efficiency (CUE), a new index in monitoring grassland ecosystem function, to mitigate the disturbance of climate fluctuation. A comprehensive evaluation index (EI), combining with actual vegetation net primary productivity (NPP), CUE, vegetation coverage, and surface bareness, was constructed for the dynamic remote sensing monitoring of grassland degradation/restoration on a regional scale. By using this index, the grassland degradation/restoration in the Three-River Source Region (TRSR) was quantitatively evaluated during 2001–2016, which has been an important ecological barrier area in China. Results showed the following: During the study period, the grassland of Yellow River source (SRYe) had high vegetation coverage, NPP, CUE, and low bareness, whereas Yangtze River source (SRYa) had low vegetation coverage, NPP, CUE, and high bareness. The vegetation coverage and CUE of the grassland showed upward trends, with annual change rates of 0.75% and 0.45% year −1. The surface bareness and NPP showed downward trends, with annual change rates of −0.37% year−1 and −0.24 g C m−2 yr−2, respectively. Assessment of EI revealed that 67.18% of the grassland of TRSR showed a recovery trend during the study period. The overall restoration of the SRYe was the best, followed by SRYa. However, the status of Lancang River source (SRLa) was poor. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Grass Traits for Ecosystem Service and Sustainability)
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