Background: The genetic basis and variability of persistence and summer dormancy and their association with forage production traits has been less investigated in tall fescue.
Results: High genotypic variation was found for all the measured traits in both parental genotypes and half-sib families. Incomplete summer dormancy was found for most of the evaluated genotypes. Summer dormancy index were negatively correlated with forage production and yield related traits. Half-sib families had higher persistence than parental genotypes, which can be due to the heterosis expression in progenies. Moderate narrow-sense heritability for persistence indicates that both additive and dominant gene action may play a role in the expression of this trait. Yield-related traits and summer dormancy showed moderate to high estimates of narrow sense heritability (0.63-0.73) indicates additive gene action for these traits. This suggest phenotypic recurrent selection can be successful to achieve genetic progress.
Conclusion: In conclusion, our results can enhance the knowledge of inheritance of summer dormancy and related traits which would be useful for future genetic studies. Based on the general combining ability and application of multivariate analysis, preferable genotypes for forage use (such as 21M and 1E) and turf application (such as 17M and 4E) were identified for future programs.