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Tough, rough and ready!

Grasses are some of the oldest and most successful plants on the planet.

Grassland covers just over half of the UK and 40% of the planet as a whole.

Different types of grass are useful for different purposes from nutritious pastures for grazing cattle to tough grass for playing rugby to the finest lawn for your garden.

By making use of the natural variation in grasses, bioscience helps breeders produce varieties of grass tailored for specific needs.

Bioscience has made the grass greener

In the mid 1990s, BBSRC-funded scientists identified in a trait in wild fescue grass which made the grass stay green. They later found that this characteristic was caused by a mutation in a gene for an enzyme that breaks down the green pigment, chlorophyll. By crossing this greener wild fescue grass with ryegrass, the gene was introduced into grass now marketed as So-green for garden lawns.

Identification of the genes responsible for other characteristics has contributed to the development of several other new grass varieties. These include:

  • Highly easily digestible and nutritious grass which could reduce methane emissions from livestock
  • High sugar grass which could be used to produce biofuels
  • And even grass that has been used for the courts at Wimbledon

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