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2013 Abstracts

Distinguishing Kentucky Bluegrass Varieties Using EST and Genomic Primers

Kat Combs, Utah State University

Plants, Soils, and Climate

Kentucky bluegrass (Poa pratensis L.) is a commonly used turfgrass species with many varieties being sold around the world. However, those varieties are very difficult to tell apart morphologically. Our objective was to use genetic markers (primers) to identify varieties, even if they are visually similar. This is valuable to the turfgrass industry for plant variety protection. We also wanted to use this data to explore the apomictic tendency (clonal reproduction) of the varieties. We collected leaf tissue from 24 Kentucky bluegrass varieties, extracted DNA, and sequenced portions using 29 EST and 21 genomic primers. This data was used to determine genetic relationships using a neighbor-joining dendrogram. Similarities of the genetic sequences from the varieties were estimated using the DICE coefficient. We found more polymorphisms in genomic primers than in EST primers with high variability between the varieties. Both types of primers were robust enough to distinguish varieties and that each variety was unique and genetically distinguishable. In addition, we discovered some varieties had large amounts of variation within a variety. This was unexpected due to the usual apomictic nature of the species. The markers resulting from our research will be available to the turfgrass industry.