Genetic and Agronomic Analysis of Latvian Fescue (Festuca Spp.), Ryegrass (Lolium Spp.) Accessions and their Hybrids

Abstract

The development of ecologically adaptable fodder crop varieties is of increasing importance, particularly in the context of climate change. New varieties should be phenotypically and ecologically plastic and able to adapt to differing climactic and soil conditions, ensuring high yields and persistence. Combining Festuca and Lolium species and the development of hybrid (Festulolium) cultivars can be a promising method of combining high yield, high feed quality, persistence, as well as cold, frost and drought tolerance. Breeders at the Institute of Agriculture of Latvia University of Life Sciences and Technologies have been utilizing Festulolium germplasm for several decades. Currently, in cooperation with the molecular genetics laboratory and Latvian gene bank at the Latvian State Forest Research Institute “Silava”, analysis of Festuca, Lolium and their hybrids with DNA markers has been initiated, in order to gain additional knowledge about the breeding material and to increase the efficiency of the breeding process. Results of the assessment of morphological and agronomic traits in long-term field trials are combined with DNA markers analyses in order to determine the correlation of genetic and phenotypic traits.

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