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Golf Course Turfgrass Species 'Remembers' if it was Mowed, Develops Differently

Greens-type Poa annua surrounded by creeping bentgrass (notice how the bentgrass grows so much taller than the greens-type Poa). Image courtesy of Penn State’s Dave Huff.

Poa annua, or annual bluegrass, a turfgrass species commonly found on golf course putting greens around the world, possesses transgenerational memory, “remembering” whether its parent was mowed or not mowed, according to a new study by Penn State researchers.

The discovery solves a two-decades-old mystery that has vexed Penn State Professor of Turfgrass Breeding and Genetics David Huff, whose research trials are aimed at breeding Poa annua to produce seed for golf greens.

“We believe that such transgenerational memory would be further entrenched or relaxed across additional generations of continued or relaxed mowing stress,” said Chris Benson, who spearheaded the research. “We think we can use this knowledge to overcome the genetics and produce stable cultivars.” This work was supported by USDA’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture. For more information, read the Penn State News article.

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