Meadow fescue (Festuca pratensis Huds.) is a diploid (2n =14) outbreeding species that belongs to the genus Festuca, together with Lolium the most important genera of forage grasses in temperate regions. Meadow fescue is a forage grass species with high quality dry matter yields, good winter survival and persistency, and is suitable for both frequent-cutting conservation regimes and grazing. The Lolium-Festuca species complex is unique since it is possible to combine genomes in interspecific hybrids (Festulolium).
Fescues in general have evolved superior adaptations to abiotic stresses, e.g., winter survival in meadow fescue. Lolium species are known for superior nutritive quality, rapid establishment and growth, but lack persistency under harsh environmental conditions. Complementation of traits in Festulolium hybrids is thus a very interesting strategy for developing novel germplasm and cultivars with improved quality and persistency, which can contribute to a sustainable forage production. Relatively modest genomic resources have been developed for meadow fescue compared with other grass species like perennial ryegrass (L. perenne). In order to develop better festulolium hybrids, we have initiated sequencing of F.pratensis, combined with an efficient utilization of the close relationship with lolium and barley through comparative genomics approaches.
Two Festuca pratensis genotypes; one genotype from a Norwegian population (HF2) and another genotype from a Yugoslavian cultivar (B14_accession 1700) were sequenced using mate pair sequencing technology on Hiseq2500, as part of VARCLIM project, funded by Norwegian research council. Previously, these two genotypes used as mapping parents, to develop a genetic map and to detect QTLs by Alm et al. (2003, 2011).