Golf Course Management

JAN 2018

Golf Course Management magazine is dedicated to advancing the golf course superintendent profession and helping GCSAA members achieve career success.

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28 GOLF COURSE MANAGEMENT 01.18 Teresa Carson Twitter: @GCM_Magazine (turf) differences and warm-season vs. cool-season grasses may be more likely to show significant differences among microbiomes in turf. Given the findings of this project, the researchers be - lieve that the sod renovation may not signifi- cantly alter the microbial population in the turfgrass at the National Mall. More information about the Mall renova - tion can be found in the November 2016 issue of GCM ( ). This research was originally published in the journal Crop Science: "The U.S. National Mall microbiome: A census of rhizosphere bac - teria inhabiting landscape turf " by J.A. Crouch, Z. Carter, A. Ismaiel and J.A. Roberts. 2017. Crop Science 57: supplement 1: S-341-S-348. doi: 10.2135/cropsci2016.10.0849. Teresa Carson is GCM 's science editor. The microbiome of the National Mall Recently, microbiomes have become a hot topic — often in the context of the microbiome of the human body, which is made up of mil - lions of bacteria, most of which are beneficial. Like human beings, turfgrass systems also have a microbiome; but for turfgrass, many of the microorganisms in the microbiome are found in the soil in which the turf is rooted. Although the turfgrass microbiome is known to be essen - tial to turf health, not much is known about how it reacts to drastic changes such as sod in - stallation or overseeding. Research has shown, however, that both beneficial and harmful mi - croscopic organisms — plant pathogens, nem- atodes, endophytes — are found in commercial turfgrass seed and sod. The story of research about the micro - biome at the National Mall in Washington, D.C., begins with Michael Stachowicz, turf management specialist for the National Mall and Memorial Parks, whose mission was to re - store the turfgrass on the National Mall, and Joseph Roberts, Ph.D., who was beginning his post-graduate career as a faculty member in plant pathology at the University of Mary - land in College Park. Roberts realized that an upcoming renovation of the National Mall could provide a laboratory for testing some common assumptions about the reaction of the turfgrass microbiome to a significant dis - ruption. And even though he was taking on a high-profile restoration project, Stachowicz, a former golf course superintendent and 26- year member of GCSAA, was generous in al - lowing Roberts to take turf samples both be- fore and after renovation. Initially, Roberts took samples of the exist - ing turfgrass from the Mall and stored them in his freezer while he settled into his new job. A few months later, the research got underway after Jo Anne Crouch, Ph.D., from the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Agricultural Re - search Service, suggested the project would be ideal for a high school senior, Zakiya Carter, who was interning in Crouch's lab. The original lawn at the National Mall was a mix of several grass species and dicots (pre-ren - ovation samples were mainly Poa annua). The replacement turf — a mix of Turbo, Falcon V and 3rd Millennium tall fescue and Bar - vette HGT, Bararri, Barimpala and Barris- ter Kentucky bluegrass developed specifically for the Mall — was grown about 170 miles away from the nation's capital on a sod farm in New Jersey. Samples were taken from the Mall (both before and after renovation), from the sod farm (tall fescue and Kentucky blue - grass), and from the USDA in Maryland (di- verse grasses and dicot plants maintained as an unirrigated lawn). The hypothesis of the researchers was that, because of the distance between the D.C. and New Jersey locations and the differences in turfgrass composition, the original microbiome of the National Mall turf would be significantly different from that of the replacement sod. DNA was extracted from the samples and analyzed, and the bacterial community composition was identified for all four loca - tions. To their surprise, the researchers did not find significant differences among the four microbial communities despite the differences in turf types and locations. However, future research that focuses on greater geographical Michael Stachowicz, turf management specialist for the National Mall and Memorial Parks (center, wearing a green hard hat), gives University of Maryland students a firsthand look at the beginnings of the turfgrass renovation on the National Mall in Washington, D.C. Photo by Joseph Roberts

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