Keynote Lectures

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Tropical grasses have been widely used as warm-season forage grasses in the warm temperate zone since the early 20th century because of their high yields; they have also been used as perennial forages in their native tropical areas. Increasing demand for animal production sparked by economic development in tropical countries is requiring breeders to improve native forage grasses in these countries. Considerable efforts have been made to breed accessions with improved characteristics and to develop new cultivars. However, cross-breeding is not common, owing to a lack of genetic information and to complexities related to polyploidy, high sterility rates, outcrossing, and apomixis. Nevertheless, several of the difficulties are being resolved by advanced research using molecular genetic tools, involving linkage analysis for the inheritance of genes for traits with major effects, such as apomixis. However, additional improvement is required for forage grasses with complex major traits that are controlled by multiple minor genes, such as forage yield, nutrient uptake, and sterility. In these cases, molecular tools can be combined with simple measurements of plant physical or morphological traits to support breeding. In addition, combining molecular tools with conventional breeding methods could lead to effective selection of promising breeding resources.

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Genomic Approaches for Dissecting Complex Traits Related to Quality Production of Range Grasses

Tropical grasses have been widely used as warm-season forage grasses in the warm temperate zone since the early 20th century because of their high yields; they have also been used as perennial forages in their native tropical areas. Increasing demand for animal production sparked by economic development in tropical countries is requiring breeders to improve native forage grasses in these countries. Considerable efforts have been made to breed accessions with improved characteristics and to develop new cultivars. However, cross-breeding is not common, owing to a lack of genetic information and to complexities related to polyploidy, high sterility rates, outcrossing, and apomixis. Nevertheless, several of the difficulties are being resolved by advanced research using molecular genetic tools, involving linkage analysis for the inheritance of genes for traits with major effects, such as apomixis. However, additional improvement is required for forage grasses with complex major traits that are controlled by multiple minor genes, such as forage yield, nutrient uptake, and sterility. In these cases, molecular tools can be combined with simple measurements of plant physical or morphological traits to support breeding. In addition, combining molecular tools with conventional breeding methods could lead to effective selection of promising breeding resources.