Document Type



Biotechnology | Ecology and Evolutionary Biology | Plant Sciences


Genetically-modified (GM) plants need to be assessed for their benefits and risks before they are released into the environment. At present, GM grasses are being developed to improve sports turf and biofuels crops (e.g. switchgrass). How will genetic engineering of perennial grasses alter the distribution of these grasses in natural areas and managed landscapes? Can we use research data to predict future gene flow, weediness, or invasion? These are some of the important questions in ecological risk assessment of GM perennial grasses. We have initiated five research projects to characterize gene flow and potential ecological risk from herbicide-resistant (HR) creeping bentgrass. Creeping bentgrass (Agrostis stolonifera) is a common, non-native turfgrass that is a weed and hybridizes with other Agrostis species. At present, USDA is considering an application to allow commercialization of genetically-modified herbicide-resistant (HR) creeping bentgrass. If approved, there is a significant probability that the transgenic HR trait would move into feral bentgrass populations and this could create environmental hazards over various temporal and spatial scales. How would species distribution be altered if these weedy grasses became resistant to the popular herbicide glyphosate? In this poster we provide a progress report on two research projects: 1) habitat suitability modeling (HSM) to predict the presence of bentgrasses at the landscape scale, and 2) gap colonization studies in natural and agricultural sites to quantify changes in bentgrass fitness under herbicide selection pressure.