Theme 1: Rangeland/Grassland Ecology--Oral Sessions

Description

In India, a major part of the rural economy is dependent on the grazing-based livestock husbandry which is unique integration of agriculture and livestock coupled with rich traditional knowledge. Ecosystems of common property resources had been a mainstay in rural economy and livelihood. The traditional grazing forage resources in arid and semi-arid regions have deteriorated a lot due to various factors including heavy grazing pressure, climate change and dominance of invasive species, thus, needs rejuvenation. Additionally, these are causing serious economic and ecological problems such as poor productivity, soil and water erosion and reduced carbon sequestration.

The genetic improvement of these grasses encounters various problems such as polyploidy, apomixis, seed shedding and shattering and poor seed to ovule ratio. Transfer of desirable traits from donor germplasm becomes difficult due to the existence of apomixis. The breeding objectives are also multifold including herbage yield, forage nutritional quality, abiotic stress tolerance etc. Identification of sexual lines is prerequisite for transfer of traits. Mutation attempts are also not effective due to polyploidy. ICAR- Indian Grassland and Fodder Research Institute, Jhansi has collected rich genetic diversity in these range grasses especially Dichanthium-Bothriochloa complex, Heteropogon, Chrysopogon, Sehima, Panicum, Cenchrus, Pennisetum etc. from different parts of the country as well as procurement from gene banks of the world. These germplasm were evaluated for morphological traits which indicated the existence of wide variation for various morpho-agronomic traits. The paper deals with reporting the extent of variability among the potential range grasses; with prospects of utilizing the diversity in rejuvenating the degraded rangelands of India and other places with isoclimatic conditions.

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Rejuvenation of Rangelands – Role of Diversity and Improvement Strategies of Range Grasses

In India, a major part of the rural economy is dependent on the grazing-based livestock husbandry which is unique integration of agriculture and livestock coupled with rich traditional knowledge. Ecosystems of common property resources had been a mainstay in rural economy and livelihood. The traditional grazing forage resources in arid and semi-arid regions have deteriorated a lot due to various factors including heavy grazing pressure, climate change and dominance of invasive species, thus, needs rejuvenation. Additionally, these are causing serious economic and ecological problems such as poor productivity, soil and water erosion and reduced carbon sequestration.

The genetic improvement of these grasses encounters various problems such as polyploidy, apomixis, seed shedding and shattering and poor seed to ovule ratio. Transfer of desirable traits from donor germplasm becomes difficult due to the existence of apomixis. The breeding objectives are also multifold including herbage yield, forage nutritional quality, abiotic stress tolerance etc. Identification of sexual lines is prerequisite for transfer of traits. Mutation attempts are also not effective due to polyploidy. ICAR- Indian Grassland and Fodder Research Institute, Jhansi has collected rich genetic diversity in these range grasses especially Dichanthium-Bothriochloa complex, Heteropogon, Chrysopogon, Sehima, Panicum, Cenchrus, Pennisetum etc. from different parts of the country as well as procurement from gene banks of the world. These germplasm were evaluated for morphological traits which indicated the existence of wide variation for various morpho-agronomic traits. The paper deals with reporting the extent of variability among the potential range grasses; with prospects of utilizing the diversity in rejuvenating the degraded rangelands of India and other places with isoclimatic conditions.