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The Weediness Of Wild Plants: Molecular Analysis Of Genes Influencing Dispersal And Persistence Of Johnsongrass, Sorghum Halepense (L.) Pers.

A. Paterson, K. Schertz, Y. R. Lin, S. Liu, Y. L. Chang
Published 1995 · Biology, Medicine

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Many major weeds rely upon vegetative dispersal by rhizomes and seed dispersal by "shattering" of the mature inflorescence. We report molecular analysis of these traits in a cross between cultivated and wild species of Sorghum that are the probable progenitors of the major weed "johnsongrass." By restriction fragment length polymorphism mapping, variation in the number of rhizomes producing above-ground shoots was associated with three quantitative trait loci (QTLs). Variation in regrowth (ratooning) after overwintering was associated with QTLs accounting for additional rhizomatous growth and with QTLs influencing tillering. Vegetative buds that become rhizomes are similar to those that become tillers--one QTL appears to influence the number of such vegetative buds available, and additional independent genes determine whether individual buds differentiate into tillers or rhizomes. DNA markers described herein facilitate cloning of genes associated with weediness, comparative study of rhizomatousness in other Poaceae, and assessment of gene flow between cultivated and weedy sorghums--a risk that constrains improvement of sorghum through biotechnology. Cloning of "weediness" genes may create opportunities for plant growth regulation, in suppressing propagation of weeds and enhancing productivity of major forage, turf, and "ratoon" crops.
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