Primary emphasis is placed on the development of improved cultivars of seashore paspalum, tall fescue, zoysiagrass, and creeping bentgrass for a range of fine-turf and environmental applications. Breeding goals are to develop cultivars for high-stress environments with improved salt tolerance, drought tolerance, disease resistance, and insect resistance.
Areas include breeding methodology, herbicide resistance systems, genetics of salt tolerance and disease resistance traits, and development of molecular markers for important traits such as salt tolerance.
Dollar Spot Resistance
Mr. Louis Miles, M.S. student working in Dr. Parrott’s lab, is leading a research project focused on improving the dollar spot resistance of seashore paspalum. Goals are to explore the potential of using transgenes from other grasses and/or improving the efficiency of existing paspalum genes with potential to reduce the incidence or severity of dollar spot in seashore paspalum.
Non-GM Herbicide Resistance System for Turf
Bermudagrass and other problematic grassy weeds continue to be a major management issue for seashore paspalum. There are currently no selective herbicides that can effectively be used to manage many grassy weeds in seashore pasaplum. Our breeding program has developed non-genetically modified (non-GM) herbicide resistant turfgrasses by using a tissue culture technique to select for naturally occurring resistant mutant cells. Herbicide resistant breeding lines have been developed and confirmed resistant to ACCase inhibiting herbicides in seashore paspalum and in bentgrass. Breeding and evaluation efforts are now underway with the goal of releasing new cultivars with high levels of resistance to ACCase-inhibiting herbicides.
This research project involves a team of research scientists and is being lead by the efforts of Mr. Doug Eudy, a Ph.D. candidate at UGA. The overall objective of this research is to uncover and map key genes involved in the salt tolerance mechanism(s) of the salt-tolerant turfgrass seashore paspalum (Paspalum vaginatum Swartz). The specific objectives include development of SSRs for future genetic studies, screening germplasm for salt tolerance, documenting genetic diversity, and identifying QTLs associated with high levels of salt tolerance.