A number of temperate grasses and legumes, important for animal feeding, have their centre of diversity in the North-West European region,
including perennial ryegrass (Lolium perenne L.; Engels raaigras), white clover (Trifolium repens L.; witte klaver) and Kentucky bluegrass (Poa
pratensis L.; veldbeemdgras). These species traditionally occur in Dutch grasslands where they can be considered as typical.
Undisturbed grasslands that are still in agricultural use have severely become reduced in number in the Netherlands. To investigate the need for
conservation policies for such grasslands, diversity was assessed in perennial ryegrass, white clover and Kentucky bluegrass collected from
traditional grasslands. This diversity was then compared with the diversity in commercial reference cultivars and in grasslands from nature
reserves. Diversity estimation included morphological analyses and molecular characterization.
The analyses indicated no substantial distinction between the gene pools of the three investigated groups for any of the three investigated
species. In particular, comparison of traditional grasslands with grasslands from nature reserves indicated that basically these two groups
covered the same range of genetic variation. It was therefore concluded that no specific in situ conservation measures are currently needed to
maintain the genetic diversity of perennial ryegrass, white clover and Kentucky bluegrass occurring in traditional grasslands, considering that
nature reserves are already under protective measures.
Because perennial ryegrass, white clover and Kentucky bluegrass can be regarded key species of grasslands, the obtained results may be
indicative of other species with similar life-history characteristics. Therefore, the need for specific conservation measures for traditional
grasslands cannot be warranted.
|Publisher||Centrum voor Genetische Bronnen|