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Bouteloua

Bouteloua

Bouteloua

Range & Habitat: Blue Grama (Bouteloua gracilis) is regarded as a native plant in NW Illinois, while in the rest of the state it is adventive. Overall, it is rare within the state, occurring in widely scattered counties. The primary range of this grass occurs in the short-grass prairie of the Great Plains. In Illinois, there are only small remnant populations. Habitats include sandy hill prairies, loess hill prairies, gravel hill prairies, sand prairies, gravelly areas along railroads, and mined land. In Illinois, this grass occurs in both high quality natural areas and disturbed areas where exposed barren ground is dry and sunny. Comments: Blue Grama (Bouteloua gracilis) is an attractive grass, especially during the summer when it is actively growing and producing its inflorescences. The floral spikes are very distinctive and at times rather colorful, superficially resembling short brushes or bushy eyebrows. In Illinois, it is difficult to confuse Blue Grama with any other grass, with the exception of the closely related Hairy Grama (Bouteloua hirsuta). This latter grass has hairier floral spikes; both its rachilla (stalklet) and floral spikelets are more hairy in appearance than those of Blue Grama. The junction of its rachilla and its culm is also quite hairy, and Hairy Grama usually produces red anthers, rather than yellow. This latter grass is native to western and northern Illinois, where it prefers sandy habitats that are sunny and dry. Blue grama grows in and often dominates dry prairies, generally on rocky or clayey soils. The native range of this species extends across the central U.S. from Canada into central Mexico. In Iowa, blue grama is mainly found in the Loess Hills and northwestern counties, but it may be encountered elsewhere as it is sometimes included in native lawn mixes or planted as an ornamental.

Blue grama is well suited to these uses because it is a short, mat-forming grass, and the attractive flowering branches often take on a bluish tint as they dry in the fall. The flowering heads with 1 to 3 usually curved, densely flowered, one-sided branches that terminate in a spikelet are distinctive. This species, which flowers from late June to September, is most similar to hairy grama (Bouteloua hirsuta) but is easily distinguished by the straight branches with projecting tips of the latter. Blue grama is palatable and nutritious for livestock and wildlife, providing high quality forage in both the summer and winter. Blue grama is frequently planted as a part of rangeland reclamation efforts and is used in roadside plantings and erosion control projects as well. The Blackfoot tribe of Montana used blue grama to foretell winter weather. Plants with one fruiting branch per stem were believed to indicate a mild winter, while plants with several fruiting branches per stem were taken as a sign that a hard winter was approaching (Blankinship, 1905). For the first time, the production of transgenic plants of the forage grass blue grama, Bouteloua gracilis [H.B.K.] Lag. ex Steud., is reported. Transgenic plants containing a gus Colon, two colons nptll fusion driven by a double CaMV35S promoter were obtained by microprojectile bombardment of the highly chlorophyllous embryogenic cell line 'TIANSJ98'. Transformed B. gracilis cell lines resisted a lethal concentration of 160 mg/l of kanamycin for at least 8 months. Chlorophyll development and growth rate were used as useful criteria for discriminating transformed from non-transformed clones. Stable integration of the transgene in the blue grama genome was demonstrated by PCR and Southern-hybridization analysis. Expression of the NPTll protein in transgenic plants grown under greenhouse conditions was confirmed indirectly by spraying kanamycin (150-250 mg/l) on plant foliage, and directly by ELISA immunological tests. Control plants sprayed with kanamycin showed foliar necrosis and reduced growth (tillering) compared to plants containing the transgene. NPTll was found in transgenic plants in levels ranging between 12.6 and 29.6 ng/mg FW of cells, as determined by ELISA reactions. (Source: pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov)

 

 

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