There are ≈20 million hectares of turfgrass managed in the United States, constituting the $40 billion turfgrass industry (National Turfgrass Federation, 2017). In most tropical and warm, temperate regions, bermudagrass (Cynodon spp.) is the foundation of the turfgrass industry (Taliaferro et al., 2004). Development of bermudagrass for turfgrass began in the early 1900s. Much of this development has involved the hybridization of Cynodon dactylon (L.), a tetraploid recognized as an invasive weed species in many regions, and C. transvaalensis (Burt-Davy), a more erect-growing diploid (de Wet and Harlan, 1970; Harlan and de Wet, 1969). Early turfgrass-breeding programs have aimed to develop better bermudagrasses to replace sand putting greens or seeded varieties (i.e., Burton, 1991). Today, the goal of many breeding programs is to create cultivars that are adapted to a broader range of environments and have improved drought tolerance. The latter is particularly important, as irrigation restrictions during drought events are becoming more common. Improved drought tolerance allows turfgrass to maintain growth and metabolic activities under water deficits through physiological processes, including osmotic adjustment, maintenance of root viability, and membrane stability (Huang et al., 2014; Nilsen and Orcutt, 1996).
DT-1, an interspecific triploid (2n = 3x = 27) hybrid of C. transvaalensis and C. dactylon, was tested in 19 drought-stress trials in Georgia, Florida, North Carolina, Oklahoma, and Texas before it was co-released from the University of Georgia and the U.S. Department of Agriculture–Agricultural Research Service in 2014 and commercially named ‘TifTuf’ (Hanna and Schwartz, 2016). Potential uses of DT-1 include sports turfgrass, home lawns, and golf course roughs, fairways, and tee boxes. DT-1 better withstands drought and traffic than previous commercial releases. In addition, it is generally faster growing than other bermudagrass cultivars and maintains turfgrass cover and green color longer into the fall. The objective of this manuscript is to summarize the performance, quality, and drought tolerance research leading to the release of DT-1.
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