Crop and Pasture Science Crop and Pasture Science Society
Plant sciences, sustainable farming systems and food quality
RESEARCH ARTICLE

Variation in seed yield and its components in the Australian native grass Microlaena stipoides as a guide to its potential as a perennial grain crop

C. L. Davies A C , D. L. Waugh A and E. C. Lefroy B
+ Author Affiliations
- Author Affiliations

A Centre for Legumes in Mediterranean Agriculture (CLIMA), The University of Western Australia, 35 Stirling Highway, Crawley, WA 6009, Australia.

B CSIRO Sustainable Ecosystems, Private Bag 5 PO, Wembley, WA 6913, Australia.

C Corresponding author. Email: chrisdav@cyllene.uwa.edu.au

Australian Journal of Agricultural Research 56(3) 309-316 https://doi.org/10.1071/AR04204
Submitted: 30 August 2004  Accepted: 17 December 2004   Published: 23 March 2005

Abstract

This research investigated the potential to domesticate an Australian native grass (Microlaena stipoides) to produce a perennial grain crop. Perennial grain crops offer a new solution to the long-standing problems of salinity and soil erosion associated with conventional cropping systems based on annual plants.

Seed yield and its components (culm number, spikelet number per culm, seed set, seed weight) were measured in 46 accessions of Microlaena stipoides (microlaena, meadow or weeping rice grass) from Western Australia and New South Wales to quantify potentially useful variation in the species.

A high degree of variability was found to exist, with a 20-fold range in seed yield (0.1–2.4 g/plant), 5-fold range in seed weight (129–666 mg per 100 seeds), 2-fold range in spikelet number (14–30 per culm), 8-fold range in seed set (12–98%), and a 5-fold range in culm number (11–59 per plant). Seed yield was positively and significantly (P < 0.05) correlated with culm number, seed set, and seed weight (r > 0.55 for all). No correlation was found between seed yield and spikelet number per culm (r = –0.14).

The range in seed yield and its components suggests that there is sufficient variation within microlaena to make selections for higher yielding lines. This variation will enable breeders to exploit genetic diversity more efficiently and identify useful accessions for further work. High priority traits for future work include synchronous maturity and resistance to shattering.

Additional keywords: weeping rice grass, domestication, salinity.


Acknowledgments

This work was jointly funded by RIRDC, GRDC, The University of Western Australia, and CSIRO. Wal Whalley, Meredith Mitchell, and Ian Chivers provided advice and support throughout the project. Wal Whalley, Phil Ward, and Jens Berger suggested improvements to the manuscript. Michelle Murphy collected microlaena for this study in NSW and Meredith Mitchell assisted in the collection in WA. Sarita Bennett and Jens Berger provided valuable assistance with statistical analysis.


References


Anamthawat-Jonsson K (1996) Wild-hybrids between wheat and lymegrass: breeding and agricultural potential. Buvusindi 10, 101–113. open url image1

Australian Wheat Board Ltd (2003) Grain production [online]. Available at (Verified 7 July 2004): http://www.awb.com.au/AWBL/Launch/Site/AboutAWB/Content/CommunityEducation/GrainProduction

Boe A (2003) Genetic and environmental effects on seed weight and seed yield in switchgrass. Crop Science 43, 63–67. open url image1

Clifford HT (1962) Cleistogamy in Microlaena stipoides (Labill.) R.Br. Department of Botany Papers (University of Queens land) 14, 63–72. open url image1

Cole I, Johnston W, Metcalfe J, Tooth I, Mitchell M, Koen T (2001) Overcoming the seed production barriers with native grasses [online]. Available at: http://www.2004.

Connor H, Matthews B (1977) Breeding systems in New Zealand grasses. 7. Cleistogamy in Microlaena. New Zealand Journal of Botany 15, 531–534. open url image1

Cox TS, Bender M, Picone C, Van Tassel DL, Holland JB, Brummer EC, Zoeller BE, Paterson AH, Jackson W (2002) Breeding perennial grain crops. Critical Reviews in Plant Sciences 21, 59–91. open url image1

Earl JM (1993) Seed production of selected accessions of Microlaena stipoides (Labill.) R.Br. Honours Thesis, University of New England, Armidale, NSW, Australia.

Earl JM, Whalley RDB, Jones CE (1994) Variation in the components of seed yield and germination requirements among three accessions of Microlaena stipoides. ‘Working Papers from the 8th Biennial Rangeland Society Conference’. Katherine, Northern Territory. (Australian Rangeland Society: Alice Springs, NT)


Ewel JJ (1999) Natural systems as models for the design of sustainable systems of land use. Agroforestry Systems 45, 1–21.
CrossRef | open url image1

Griffiths DJ, Lewis J, Bean EW (1980) Problems of breeding for seed production in grasses. ‘Seed production’. (Ed. PD Hebblethwaite) pp. 37–50. (Butterworths: London)

Groves RH, Whalley RDB (2002) Grass and grassland ecology in Australia. Flora of Australia 43, 157–182. open url image1

Hodosne-Kotvics G, Krisztian J, Dornbach L (1999) Perennial rye: a novel variety released from a new interspecific hybrid rye. Gyakorlati Agroforum 10, 63. open url image1

Huxtable CHA (1990) Ecological and embryological studies of Microlaena stipoides (Labill.) R.Br. Dissertation thesis, University of New England, Armidale, NSW, Australia.

Jackson L, Dewald C (1994) Predicting evolutionary consequences of greater reproductive effort in Tripsacum dactyloides, a perennial grass. Ecology 75, 627–641. open url image1

Jackson W, Jackson LL (2000) Developing high seed yielding perennial polycultures as a mimic of mid-grass prairie. ‘Agriculture as a mimic of natural ecosystems’. (Eds EC Lefroy, RJ Hobbs, MH O’Connor, JS Pate) pp. 1–55. (Kluwer: Dordrecht, The Netherlands)

Jones TA, Majerus ME, Scheetz JG, Holzworth LK, Nielson DC (1998) Registration of ‘Rimrock’ Indian ricegrass. Crop Science 38, 539–540. open url image1

Jones TA, Nielson DC (1992) High seed retention of Indian ricegrass PI478833. Journal of Rangeland Management 45, 72–74. open url image1

Kulakow PA, Benson LL, Vail JG (1990) Prospects for domesticating Illinois bundleflower. ‘Advances in New Crops: Proceedings of the 1st National Symposium—New Crops, Research, Development, Economics’. Indianapolis. (Ed.  J Janick , JE Simon , MH O’Connor , JS Pate ) pp. 168–171. (Timber Press: Portland, OR)


Loch D, Johnston P, Jensen T, Harvey G (1996) Harvesting, processing and marketing Australian native grass seeds. New Zealand Journal of Agricultural Research 39, 591–599. open url image1

Murphy MA, Jones CE (1999) Observations on the genus Elymus (Poaceae: Triticeae) in Australia. Australian Systematic Botany 12, 593–604. open url image1

Puckridge DW, Donald CM (1967) Competition among wheat plants sown at a wide range of densities. Australian Journal of Agricultural Research 18, 193–211.
CrossRef | open url image1

Scheinost P, Lammer D, Cai X, Murray T, Jones S (2001) Perennial wheat: the development of a sustainable cropping system for the U.S. Pacific Northwest. American Journal of Alternative Agriculture 16, 147–151. open url image1

Smith, SR ,  and  Smith, S (1997). ‘Native grass seed production manual.’ (Ducks Unlimited Canada: Stonewall, Canada)

Smith SR, Whalley R (2002) A model for expanded use of native grasses. Native Plants Journal 3, 38–49. open url image1

Specht, RL ,  and  Specht, A (1999). ‘Australian plant communities: dynamics of structure, growth and biodiversity.’ (Oxford University Press: Melbourne, Vic.)

Suneson CA, Pope WK (1946) Progress with Triticum × Agropyron crosses in California. Journal of the American Society of Agronomy 38, 956–963. open url image1

Uphof JCT (1938) Cleistogamous flowers. Botanical Review 4, 21–49. open url image1

Vogel K, Moore K (1993) Native North American grasses. ‘New crops’. (Eds J Janick, JE Simon, MH O’Connor, JS Pate) pp. 284–293. (John Wiley and Sons, Inc: New York)

Wade LJ, Douglas ACL, Bell KL (1992) Effect of plant density on grain yield and yield stability of diverse grain sorghum hybrids. AIAS Occasional Publication 68, 414–422. open url image1

Wagoner P (1990) Perennial grain development: past efforts and potential for the future. Critical Reviews in Plant Sciences 9, 381–408. open url image1

Wagoner P (1995) Intermediate wheatgrass (Thinopyrum intermedium) Development of a perennial grain crop. ‘Cereals and pseudocereals’. 1st edn(Ed. JT Williams) pp. 247–259. (Chapman and Hall: London)

Wagoner P, Schauer A (1990) Intermediate wheatgrass as a perennial grain crop. ‘Advances in New Crops: Proceedings of the 1st National Symposium—New Crops, Research, Development, Economics’. Indianapolis. (Ed.  J Janick , JE Simon , MH O’Connor , JS Pate ) pp. 143–145. (Timber Press: Portland, OR)


Waters C, Huxtable C, Whalley W (2000) Microlaena stipoides (Microlaena). ‘Grassed up: guidelines for revegetating with Australian native grasses’. (Ed. JT Williams) pp. 59–61. (NSW Agriculture: Dubbo, NSW)

Whalley, RDB ,  and  Jones, CE (1997). ‘Commercialising the Australian native grass .’ (RIRDC Publication No. 97/34. Rural Industries Research and Development Corporation: Canberra, ACT)








Rent Article (via Deepdyve) Export Citation Cited By (8)

View Altmetrics