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Doctoral thesis2019Open access

Building knowledge for a forage breeding program on native Festuca species in the highlands of Bolivia

Ustariz Olivera, Karina Rossio


Native grasses constitute the most important source of feed for camelids, sheep and cattle in the highlands of Bolivia, where the genus Festuca is one of the major feed components. The two most important species of this region are F. dolichophylla J. Presl (known as “chilliwa”) and F. orthophylla Pilg (known as “iru ichu”). This research aimed to investigate the phylogenetic relationships within the Festuca genus from the highlands of Bolivia, to evaluate the genetic diversity using EST-SSR markers and to assess the nutritional value for its use in breeding and conservation. The phylogenetic analysis, which was based on sequences derived from nuclear (ITS, CEN, Acc1) and chloroplast DNA (matK) regions, revealed that the Bolivian Festuca species derived from a common ancestor of the fine-leaved lineage of the Festuca sub-genus. In addition, Bolivian fescues where all grouped together, thus indicating that they belong to the American clade II of the Loliinae subtribe. The evaluation of genetic diversity performed using 12 EST-SSR markers in 43 populations indicated absence of clear population structure. However, four primer-pairs (FES 04, FES 13, FES 24 and NFA 142) were at the top in their polymorphism and gene diversity indicating the putative use of them in future population genetic analysis. Moreover, they could be helpful in pursuing the development of effective conservation management strategies for native and endangered Festuca species in Bolivia. The assessment of the mineral composition, protein, ash and cellulose contents, which were determined in 11 Bolivian Festuca ecotypes and 2 cultivars from Argentina, revealed as candidates for genetic improvement, the accessions 29, 10, 21, 32, 38 and 23 due to their high protein, Ca, Mg and P contents. The result generated in this work represents the starting material to develop a forage breeding program of the Festuca species in Bolivia as well as develop strategies for ex situ and in situ germplasm conservation. 


EST-SSR; Festuca; Genetic diversity; Nutritional value; Phylogeny

Published in

Acta Universitatis Agriculturae Sueciae
2019, number: 2019:76ISBN: 978-91-7760-470-9, eISBN: 978-91-7760-471-6
Publisher: Department of Plant Breeding, Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences