St. augustinegrass [Stenotaphrum secundatum (Walt.) Kuntze] is a popular turfgrass in the southern United States as a result of its superior shade tolerance and relatively low input requirements. However, it is the least cold-tolerant of commonly used warm-season turfgrass species. 'Raleigh', released in 1980, has superior cold tolerance and is adapted and widely used in U.S. Department of Agriculture hardiness zones 8 to 9. More than 25 years after its release, 'Raleigh' is still the industry's standard in terms of cold tolerance. However, the original foundation and breeder stock fields of the cultivar have been lost, placing the integrity of the cultivar at risk. The objectives of this study were to investigate whether current 'Raleigh' production fields across the southern United States are true to the original source. In this study, 15 amplified fragment length polymorphism (AFLP) primer combinations were used to assess levels of genetic variability among three original stocks of 'Raleigh' and 46 samples obtained from sod farms and universities in six states. Genetic similarities among the original stocks were Sij = 1, whereas similarities between this group and all other samples ranged from 0.24 to 1.0. Results based on cluster analysis, principal coordinate analysis, and analysis of molecular variance (AMOVA) revealed separation between original stocks of 'Raleigh' and some commercial samples. Results from this study offer further evidence that molecular markers provide a useful and powerful technique for identity preservation of clonally propagated cultivars and the detection of genetic variants in sod production fields and turfgrass breeding programs.
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- Cultivar identification
- Genetic diversity
- Molecular markers
- Stenotaphrum secundatum
- Vegetatively propagated species
- Warm-season grasses