David R. Huff, Ph.D.

David R. Huff, Ph.D.

  • Professor of Turfgrass Breeding and Genetics
210 Ag Sciences and Industries Bldg.
University Park, PA 16802


  • Ph.D., Genetics. University of California, Davis. 1988.
  • Dissertation: The reproductive biology of buffalograss Buchloë dactyloides (Nutt.) Engelm.
  • M.S., Genetics. University of California, Davis. 1983. Thesis: Independence of heavy metal tolerance and morphology in Festuca rubra L.
  • B.S., Crop and Soil Sciences. Michigan State University. 1980.

Responsibilities and Interests

My program focuses on the fundamental and applied arenas of genetics, ecology, and physiology in introduced and native grass species aimed at enhancing turf quality, seed yield, persistence, disease resistance, and tolerance to salinity, drought, and extreme temperatures (both heat and cold) using traditional, molecular, and genomic approaches. In addition, my program performs a range of genomic investigations on the reproductive biology of these grasses including such systems as apomixis and dioecy.


  • 75% Research
  • 25% Teaching

Professional Background

  • 2000 -Present    Associate Professor of Turfgrass Breeding and Genetics, Department of Crop and Soil Sciences, Pennsylvania State University, University     Park, PA.  
  • 1994 -2000  Assistant Professor of Turfgrass Breeding and Genetics, Department of Crop and Soil Sciences, Pennsylvania State University, University Park, PA.  
  • 1991 -1994  Assistant Professor (non-tenure track) of Turfgrass Breeding and Genetics, Department of Plant Science, Rutgers University, New Brunswick, NJ.   
  • 1990 -1991  Postdoctoral Research Associate in Turfgrass Breeding and Genetics, Rutgers University, New Brunswick, NJ. 
  • 1988 -1990  Director of Turfgrass Breeding, B Four Corporation, 3334 Richmond, Houston, Texas 77098. 
  • 1988 - 1988  Postdoctoral Research Associate in Turfgrass Breeding and Genetics,  Texas A&M University, Dallas, Texas.
  • 1981 - 1988  Research Assistant, Department of Environmental Horticulture, University of California, Davis, California.
  • 1980 - 1980  Seed Analyst, Michigan Crop Improvement Association, Okemos, MI. 
  • 1980 - 1980  Farm Crew, Wheat Breeding Program, Dr. Everett Everson/Dr. Russell Freed, Michigan State University, East Lansing, MI.
  • 1979 - 1980  Laboratory Assistant, Tomato Breeding Program, Dr. Jon Fobes, Michigan State University, East Lansing, MI.

Selected Publications

  1. Mao, Q. and D.R. Huff . 2012. The evolutionary origin of Poa annua L. Crop Science. Accepted for publication March 1, 2012. In Press.
  2. La Mantia, J.M. and D.R. Huff . 2011. Instability of the greens-type phenotype in Poa annua L. Crop Sci. 51:1784–1792. doi: 10.2135/cropsci2010.10.0580.
  3. Lyons, E., P. Landschoot, and D.R. Huff . 2011. Root distribution and tiller densities of creeping bentgrass cultivars and greens-type annual bluegrass cultivars in a putting green. HortScience 46:1411-1417.
  4. Chandra, A. , J.A. Reinert, J. LaMantia, J.B. Pond, and D.R. Huff . 2011. Genetic variability in southern chinch bug (Blissus insularis) populations assessed using AFLP analysis.  J. Insect Science 11: article 173.
  5. Huff, D.R. 2010. Chapter 15: Bluegrasses. In B. Boller, U. K. Posselt and F. Veronesi, eds. Handbook of Plant Breeding: Fodder Crops and Amenity Grasses. Vol. 5, DOI 10.1007/978-1-4419-0760-8_15.  Springer Publishing.  Pp. 345-379.
  6. Chandra, A. and D.R. Huff . 2010. A fungal parasite regulates a putative female-suppressor gene homologous to maize Tasselseed2 and causes induced hermaphroditism in male buffalograss. Molecular Plant Microbe Interaction (MPMI) 23:239–250. doi:10.1094/MPMI -23-3-0239.  Selected as Editor's choice and front cover of issue.
  7. Dionne, J., S. Rochefort, Y. Castonguay, D.R. Huff , Y. Desjardins, and A. Bertrand. 2010. Variability for freezing tolerance among 42 ecotypes of green-type annual bluegrass ( Poa annua L.). Crop Science 50:321-336. 
  8. Aamlid, T.S., P. J. Landschoot and D.R. Huff . 2009. Tolerance to simulated ice encasement and Microdochium nivale in USA selections of greens-type Poa annua .  Acta Agriculturae Scandinavica Section B-Soil and Plant Science 59:170-178. DOI: 10.1080/09064710802093854.
  9. Dai, J., D.R. Huff , and M. Schlossberg. 2009.  Salinity effects on seed germination and vegetative growth of greens-type Poa annua relative to other cool-season turfgrass species. Crop Science 49:1-8.
  10. Dai, J., M.J. Schlossberg and D.R. Huff. 2008. Salinity tolerance of 33 greens-type Poa annua experimental lines. Crop Science 48:1187-1192.
  11. Chandra, A. and D.R. Huff . 2008. Salmacisia , a new genus of Tilletiales: reclassification of Tilletia buchloëana causing induced hermaphroditism in buffalograss.  Mycologia 100:81-93.
  12. Clarke, B.B., J.F. White, R.H. Hurley, M.S. Torres, S. Sun, and D.R. Huff . 2006. Endophyte-mediated suppression of dollar spot disease in fine fescues.  Plant Disease 90:994-998.
  13. Neylan J., A. Peart, and D.R. Huff . 2005. Comparison of the effects of potable water versus saline effluent used for irrigating bentgrass ( Agrostis spp.) and Poa annua L. cultivars. International Turfgrass Society Research Journal 10:609-618.
  14. Huff, D.R. , J.A. Quinn, and A. Palazzo. 2001. Regional variation among DNA profiles of North American native little bluestem [Schizachyrium scoparium (Michx.) Nash] populations. Crop Science 7: 1591–1597.
  15. Huff, D.R. 2003. Chapter 2: Annual bluegrass. In M. Casler and R. Duncan, eds. Turfgrass Biology, Genetics, and Breeding. John Wiley and Sons. Hoboken, NJ. p. 27-38.
  16. Huff, D.R. 2003. Chapter 3: Kentucky bluegrass. In M. Casler and R. Duncan, ed. Turfgrass Biology, Genetics, and Breeding. John Wiley and Sons. Hoboken, NJ. p. 39-52.
  17. Huff, D.R. 2001. Chapter 8: Genetic characterization of heterogeneous plant populations in forage, turf, and native grasses.  In G. Spangenberg, ed. Developments in Plant Breeding: Molecular Breeding of Forage Crops. Kluwer Academic Publishers, Boston. p. 249-268.
  18. Huff, D.R. and A. J. Palazzo. 1998. Fine fescue species determination by laser flow cytometry.  Crop Science 38:445-450.
  19. Huff, D.R. 1997. RAPD characterization of heterogeneous perennial ryegrass cultivars. Crop Science 37:557-564.
  20. Huff, D.R. and J.M. Bara. 1993. Determining genetic origins of aberrant progeny from facultative apomictic Kentucky bluegrass using a combination of flow cytometry and silver‑stained RAPD markers. Theoretical and Applied Genetics 87:201‑208.
  21. Huff, D.R. , R. Peakall, and P.E. Smouse. 1993. RAPD variation within and among natural populations of outcrossing buffalograss. Theoretical and Applied Genetics 86:927‑934.
  22. Huff, D.R. and L. Wu. 1992. Distribution and inheritance of inconstant (monoecious) sex forms among natural populations of dioecious buffalograss [ Buchloë dactyloides (Nutt.) Engelm.]. American Journal of Botany 79:207‑215.
  23. Huff, D.R. 1991. Sex ratios and inheritance of anther and stigma color in diploid buffalograss. Crop Science 31:328‑332.


  1. TURF 235 The Turfgrass (3 credits, UNDERGRAD).  Characterization of the primary plant species used for sports, lawn and utility turf; includes turfgrass morphology, environmental adaptation, and cultural requirements.  Dr. Huff served as instructor from 1994-2007 and instituted a laboratory component to the course in 1996 (1,347 students).
  2. TURF 489 Supervised Experience in College Teaching (1-3 credits, UNDERGRAD).  Students participate with instructors in teaching and undergraduate turfgrass course. Assist with teaching an evaluation and with development of instructional materials.  Dr. Huff developed this course in conjunction with TURF 235 laboratories and taught the course from 1997-2007 (50 students). 
  3. TURF 490 Colloquium (1 credit, UNDERGRAD).  Oral presentations developed by students in consultation with the course instructor.  Dr. Huff served as instructor in 2007, 2008, 2011, and 2012 at University Park (86 students) and transitioned the course to and instructed the course for World Campus since 2005 (118 students). 
  4. TURF 495 Internship (3 credit, UNDERGRAD).  Supervised off-campus, non-group instruction including field experiences, practica, or internships. Written and oral critique of activity required.  Dr. Huff has instructed this course at University Park since 2003 (180 students).  He also transitioned and instructed the course for World Campus since 2005 (126 students). 
  5. TURF 936A (4 points or 2 credits, UNDERGRAD).  A systematic approach to Turfgrasses, including origin, classification, ecology, identification, and use. Through a series of lectures and practical exercises, a developing background and skills in turfgrass identification, uses, and adaptation will be obtained.  Dr. Huff has served as instructor for this course as part of the 2-Year Technical Management Program in Turfgrass Management since 1995 (453 students).
  6. AGRO 851 Applied Plant Population Biology (3 credits, GRADUATE).   The fundamentals of plant population biology are studied in practical examples to give potential superintendents and managers of large land holdings (such as golf courses, highway roadsides, game lands, and military installations) the skills necessary for making sound ecological decisions regarding the choice and management of plant materials utilized in land restoration and revegetation.  Dr. Huff developed and instructed this course at University Park (3 students) and for the World Campus (16 students) in 2011. 
  7. PLBIO 512 Plant Resource Acquisition and Utilization (4 credits, GRADUATE).  Advanced study of plant resource acquisition and utilization considering molecular, physiological, and whole plant perspectives through lectures and problem solving.  This course serves as 1 of 2 tutorial courses required of all incoming Plant Biology graduate students.  Dr. Huff has team taught this with 14 other instructors since 1997 and since 2009 he has served as coordinator of the course (144 students).