Structural Responses to Selection for Reduced Fiber Concentration in Smooth Bromegrass
Selection for reduced neutral detergent fiber (NDF) concentration has been practiced as a mechanism of increasing voluntary intake potential of forage crops. Because selection is usually conducted on the basis of whole-plant samples, there exists the potential for structural shifts in plant composition. The objective of this study was to quantify structural changes due to selection for reduced NDF concentration in smooth bromegrass (Bromus inermis Leyss). Three cycles of phenotypic selection led to reduced whole-plant NDF concentration, primarily due to reductions in NDF of stems (−5.7 to −5.8 g kg−1 cycle−1) and leaf sheaths (−3.1 to −4.9 g kg−1 cycle−1). Selection at both the vegetative growth stage (primarily leaf blades) or heading growth stage (all shoot components present) led to similar changes in shoot-component NDF concentrations. Selection on the basis of vegetative samples did not lead to structural changes. Conversely, selection on the basis of headed samples led to an average reduction of −7.5 % cycle−1 in stem component concentration, which was compensated largely by increases in leaf blade and sheath component concentrations. Increases in leaf:stem ratio may partially explain reductions in forage yield associated with reduced NDF concentration. Future selection efforts should attempt to avoid this response by using samples composed of a single shoot component. The NDF concentrations in various shoot components of smooth bromegrass appear to be positively correlated with each other.Please view the pdf by using the Full Text (PDF) link under 'View' to the left.
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