MSI PI Eric Watkins (Horticultural Science) has received a $5.4 million grant from the US Department of Agriculture. A type of grass called fine fescue needs less water and fertilizer than other grasses used for lawns, but has not gained popularity. Professor Watkins will study why homeowners don’t use fine fescues, and how new varieties can be developed that meet their needs and wants.
An article about this research can be found on the University News website: Turfgrass researchers receive $5.4 million to create more sustainable lawns.
Professor Watkins uses MSI resources for metagenomics studies of turfgrass rhizospheres (the area around a plant’s roots, which is affected by the plant and by soil microorganisms). Understanding how microorganisms associate with turfgrass may result in cultivars that form better mutualistic and beneficial relationships with soil microorganisms.