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2011 Turfgrass Research Impacts, Page 1
Environmentally Friendly,  Economically Sound Turf Insect Management   more

Disease Control: Sequencing the Genome of a Major Turf Pathogen

A team lead by Dr. Ignazio Carbone and Dr. Lane Treadway has successfully sequenced the genome of the turf pathogen, Sclerotinia homoeocarpa.

This fungus
is, by far, the most important turf pathogen worldwide; and the availability of genome data will dramatically accelerate research on host specificity, population dynamics, and fungicide resistance. The genome has been assembled and is available online to our collaborators.

This genome project is a collaboration among Drs. Carbone and Treadway at N.C. State University, Mike Boehm and Tom Mitchell at Ohio State, and Natalie 
Federova at the J. Craig Venter Institute. The

sequencing work was funded primarily by the Center for Turfgrass Environmental Research & Education at N.C. State University; but the ongoing research to develop the resulting data into practical applications is supported by federal and industry grants, in addition to critical funding from the Department of Plant Pathology in the form of technical support and graduate student assistantships.

Center for Turfgrass Environmental Research & Education: Economic Impacts

The Center for Turfgrass Environmental Research and Education (CENTERE) at North Carolina State University was formed in, funded at $600,000 annually.  The funds were generated from a mutual agreement by the turfgrass industry and the North Carolina Legislature. Turfgrass industry leaders agreed to a self-imposed tax: and the industry further agreed not to oppose a sales tax on seed and fertilizer (which were heretofore exempt from sales tax) if the State Legislature agreed to allocate a small portion of those tax revenues to turfgrass research and education. At the time of bill ratification, fiscal research estimated that the legislation would add approximately $12 million annually to the North Carolina General Fund.  In return, $600,000 was allocated to NCSU for turfgrass research. Because of budget cuts, the $600,000 has been decreased to $540,000 in 2010 and is threatened by additional cuts in FY 2011-12 and beyond.

The turfgrass industry is a part of the NC Green Industry. The turfgrass industry is primarily made up of small businesses which exist in all 100 counties: they include lawn care companies and groups managing golf courses, athletic fields, airports, and other turfgrass areas. The industry is very important economically. A 2005 study found that the Green Industry’s economic impact was $8.6 billion annually. A separate 1999 economic impact study of the turfgrass industry made by NCDA found its economic impact to be $4.7 billion and that it employed 96,000 people. These impacts exceed those for other economic sectors — scientific R&D services ($2.5 billion), agricultural crops ($2.9 billion), and semiconductor and other electronic components manufacturing ($2.9 billion).

In the past 10 years, the Turfgrass Center has contributed significantly to job creation and the economic viability of the turfgrass industry. Its role has been to educate students for professional turfgrass roles and to conduct applied research that increases the economic and environmental sustainability of turfgrass systems. Some highlights over a 10 year period include:

(1) 42 students have earned, or are scheduled to be awarded, MS or PhD degrees in turfgrass science. These graduates, employed as educators and scientists, have contributed significantly to the industry and the NC economy.  Many are employed by large corporations such as Bayer, Syngenta, and BASF, which have North American headquarters in the State.
(2) 1,014 undergraduate students have received degrees in turfgrass science and are employed as small business owners and operators, or work for the large corporations and municipalities.
(3) Creation and management of Turffiles (, the educational outreach arm delivering research-based information to the turfgrass industry electronically.  Turffiles in the largest turfgrass information website in the world. In the last twelve months, Turffiles has had 474,950 visits and 1,277,817 page views.  This is a tremendous response to the out
reach tool for small businesses in NC.  

(4) Research on the environmental impacts of turfgrass management has shown the positive impact of turfgrasses on the environment, preventing unnecessary regulation for small businesses in North Carolina. Further, Best Management Practices (BMPs) developed by the Turfgrass Center have been adopted worldwide.
(5) Golf courses make major contributions to tourism and development in North Carolina. A recent survey estimated the direct value at $2.9 billion. Turfgrass Center faculty work closely with golf course superintendents throughout the state to make courses high quality and economically viable.
(6) North Carolina hosts of many major golf tournaments, including the U.S. Men and Women’s Open and the Quail Hollow Championship.  Faculty from the NCSU Turfgrass Center work intensively with those courses to ensure playing conditions worthy of major tournaments; and the tournaments consequently make major economic contributions in the state.