Corporate Banner
Satellite Banner
Scientific Community
Become a Member | Sign in
Home>News>This Article

New Grass Hybrid Could Help Reduce the Likelihood of Flooding

Published: Monday, April 29, 2013
Last Updated: Monday, April 29, 2013
Bookmark and Share
Collaboration of BBSRC-funded scientists use hybridised forage grass to combine fast root growth and efficient soil water retention.

A collaboration of plant and soil scientists from across the UK has shown a grass hybrid species could help reduce the impact of flooding.

The BBSRC-funded scientists, from Rothamsted Research, the James Hutton Institute, Institute of Biological, Environmental and Rural Sciences (IBERS) at Aberystwyth University, Lancaster University and the University of Nottingham, used a hybridised species of grass called perennial ryegrass (Lolium perenne) with a closely related species called meadow fescue (Festuca pratensis).

They hoped to integrate the rapid establishment and growth rate of the ryegrass with the large, well developed root systems and efficient water capture of the meadow fescue.

Over two years of field experiments in the south west the team demonstrated that the hybrid, named Festulolium, reduced water runoff from agricultural grassland by up to 51 per cent compared to a leading UK nationally-recommended perennial ryegrass cultivar and by 43 per cent compared to meadow fescue.

It is thought the reduced runoff is achieved because Festulolium's intense initial root growth and subsequent rapid turn-over, especially at depth, allows more water to be retained within the soil.
The hybrid grass also provides high quality forage with resilience to weather extremes, making the grass doubly useful to farmers.

Dr. Kit Macleod, catchment scientist at the James Hutton Institute and one of the authors of the paper, said: "Hybrid grasses of this type show potential for reducing the likelihood of flood generation, whilst providing pasture for food production under conditions of changing climate.

"In areas with similar climate and soils, then there is potential for reducing the likelihood of flood generation based on increased soil water storage within a river's catchment."

Professor Douglas Kell, Chief Executive of BBSRC, said: "We usually think of improving food crops solely in terms of traits such as the yield and quality of the food itself, and apart from root crops such as potatoes and carrots these are easily visible, above-ground traits. However, there is increasing recognition that the health and utility of plants can be greatly enhanced by improving below-ground traits such as root growth.

"This is a superb example of that reasoning, and a hugely important advance resulting from decades of fundamental BBSRC-supported work on the hybridisation of Lolium and Festuca (Fescue) species. I am sure that we shall see a continuing resurgence of interest in root biology, which findings such as this are sure to promote. The enormous savings that will be possible by mitigating flooding through planting grasses such as these dwarf any possible cost of producing them."

Further Information
Access to this exclusive content is for Technology Networks Premium members only.

Join Technology Networks Premium for free access to:

  • Exclusive articles
  • Presentations from international conferences
  • Over 2,800+ scientific posters on ePosters
  • More than 4,000+ scientific videos on LabTube
  • 35 community eNewsletters

Sign In

Forgotten your details? Click Here
If you are not a member you can join here

*Please note: By logging into you agree to accept the use of cookies. To find out more about the cookies we use and how to delete them, see our privacy policy.

Related Content

Expanding the DNA Alphabet: 'Extra' DNA Base Found to be Stable in Mammals
A rare DNA base, previously thought to be a temporary modification, has been shown to be stable in mammalian DNA, suggesting that it plays a key role in cellular function.
Thursday, June 25, 2015
Controlling Leaf Blotch Disease In Wheat
Scientists have found a genetic mechanism that could stop the spread of a "devastating" disease threatening wheat crops.
Thursday, February 05, 2015
Rising Temperatures Predicted to Lower Wheat Yields
An international consortium of researchers has used big data sets to predict the effects climate change on global wheat yields.
Friday, December 26, 2014
UK And India Collaborate On Future-Proof Crops
Drought-tolerant tomatoes, improved wheat and grass pea could provide crops for the future.
Friday, November 28, 2014
Better Understanding of Disease Resistance Genes in Crops
Effector-triggered defence concept describes how plants protect themselves against the apoplast.
Friday, June 06, 2014
Public-private Research Partnership to Support Sustainable Agricultural Systems
The partnership will support projects that will help provide solutions to key challenges affecting the sustainability of the UK crop and livestock sectors.
Friday, May 23, 2014
A Synthetic Biology Approach to Improve Photosynthesis
Assembling a compartment inside chloroplasts of flowering plants has the potential to improve the efficiency of photosynthesis.
Friday, May 16, 2014
Green Vaccination: Boosting Plant Immunity Without Side Effects
A team of international researchers has uncovered a mechanism by which plants are able to better defend themselves against disease causing pathogens.
Tuesday, May 06, 2014
Rothamsted Research Granted Permission for new GM Field Trial
Permission granted by Defra for Rothamsted to carry out a field trial with GM Camelina plants that produce omega-3 fish oils in their seeds.
Monday, April 28, 2014
BBSRC, NSF Co-Fund International Arabidopsis Resource

Friday, March 14, 2014
Genetic traits in cattle identified that might allow farmers to breed livestock with increased resistance to bovine tuberculosis (TB)
The BBSRC-funded scientists compared the genetic code of TB-infected animals with that of disease-free cattle, could help to impact on a disease that leads to major economic losses worldwide.
Tuesday, February 18, 2014
UK Establishes Three New Synthetic Biology Research Centres
Bristol, Nottingham and a Cambridge/Norwich partnership will be UK centres for synthetic biology.
Friday, January 31, 2014
£17.7M for Major Long-Term Research Projects to Harness the Power of Bioscience
Research for agriculture, health, alternatives to fossil fuels, and new commercial products.
Monday, December 16, 2013
Crop-Infecting Virus Forces Aphids to Spread Disease
Viruses alter plant biochemistry in order to manipulate visiting aphids into spreading infection.
Friday, December 06, 2013
Octocopter to Monitor Crops
BBSRC has invested in unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) technology to monitor crops and crop experiments as part of several genetic improvement projects.
Wednesday, December 04, 2013
Scientific News
Tardigrade's Are DNA Master Thieves
Tardigrades, nearly microscopic animals that can survive the harshest of environments, including outer space, hold the record for the animal that has the most foreign DNA.
GMO Food Animals Should be Judged by Product, Not Process
In a world with a burgeoning demand for meat, milk and eggs, regulatory policies around the use of biotechnologies in agriculture need to be based on the safety and attributes of those foods rather than on the methods used to produce them, says a UC Davis animal scientist.
Cancer-Fighting Tomato Component Traced
The metabolic pathway associated with lycopene, the bioactive red pigment found in tomatoes, has been traced by researchers at the University of Illinois.
TGAC Announces Milestone in Wheat Research
A more complete and accurate wheat genome assembly is being made available to researchers, by The Genome Analysis Centre (TGAC) on 12 November 2015.
Shedding Light on the Origin of the Date Palm
Researchers also find ‘genetic mutation’ that is responsible for dates’ color.
New Way to Find DNA Damage
University of Utah chemists devised a new way to detect chemical damage to DNA that sometimes leads to genetic mutations responsible for many diseases, including various cancers and neurological disorders.
Speeding Up Potato Breeding
A joint project is investigating the potential of drones for speeding up the development of new potato varieties.
Gene Editing Could Enable Pig-To-Human Organ Transplant
The largest number of simultaneous gene edits ever accomplished in the genome could help bridge the gap between organ transplant scarcity and the countless patients who need them.
Ancestors of Land Plants Were Wired to Make the Leap to Shore
When the algal ancestor of modern land plants made the transition from aquatic environments to an inhospitable shore 450 million years ago, it changed the world by dramatically altering climate and setting the stage for the vast array of terrestrial life.
Photosynthesis Gene Could Help Crops Grow in Adverse Conditions
A gene that helps plants to remain healthy during times of stress has been identified by researchers at Oxford University.
Skyscraper Banner

Skyscraper Banner
Go to LabTube
Go to eposters
Access to the latest scientific news
Exclusive articles
Upload and share your posters on ePosters
Latest presentations and webinars
View a library of 1,800+ scientific and medical posters
2,800+ scientific and medical posters
A library of 2,500+ scientific videos on LabTube
4,000+ scientific videos