However, most plants cannot tolerate a lot of salt. As some areas of the United States run low on clean water, plant breeders are trying to breed plants that are more salt tolerant. This would conserve clean water while maintaining healthy turf.
Plant breeders can actually see the individual effect of what each parent plant passes on because the genes add intensity to the trait. These are additive effects. Breeders can more easily select for those features when they observe those differences.
“We found through a series of experiments that salt tolerance in perennial ryegrass is highly controlled by additive genetic effects rather than environmental effects,” said Stacy Bonos from Rutgers University. “This is great news for breeders because we now know salt tolerance can be more easily bred for.”
Bonos and her team measured salt tolerance using visual percent green color. This is the percentage of the plant that is green and actively growing as compared to brown, which would indicate that it is dead or dying.
“As a plant is affected by salinity it will start to turn brown,” explained Bonos. “It is an indication of their salt tolerance if they can continue to grow and have green tissue while the others turn straw colored and brown and start to die.”