Tools to distinguish native from exotic reed canarygrass
Neil Anderson, Horticultural Science
Reed canarygrass (Phalaris arundinacea) is a plant with a complex local history. It poses a major threat to native wetland diversity in the state, and for that reason many land managers choose to undergo the expensive and difficult process of removing large stands. But it is still sometimes planted for revegetation programs, and varieties of the grass have been cultivated as a forage crop for the past century.
Adding to the complexity: some populations of reed canarygrass are likely native to Minnesota while others are definitely exotic. Native populations may have been used by early Native Americans for traditional weaving, making them culturally important.
Researchers and managers still aren’t sure whether native reed canarygrass is as vigorous as exotic types. It is not clear how much native reed canarygrass is still present in the state. Native and exotic types look very similar, so this project will establish a reliable genetic basis for differentiating between varieties of reed canarygrass. Specifically, MITPPC scientists will develop a hand-held molecular testing tool that can be used in the field by managers.
- Where are Minnesota reed canary grass populations native or exotic?
- How can the native vs. exotic status of reed canary grass be tested by a hand-held device in the field?
The ability to identify native reed canarygrass populations across Minnesota would inform state, federal and tribal-agency exotic reed canarygrass control programs. Hand-held field genotyping technology may be useful for other plant models, like Palmer amaranth, in future work.
Minnesota Department of Transportation, Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR)
Neil O. Anderson, principal investigator
Andrzej Noyszewski, post-doctoral associate
News & Publications
- Genetic diversity of phalaris arundinacea populations in relation to river regulation in the Merkys basin, Lithuania (River Research and Applications, 2018)