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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Research Project: REDESIGNING FORAGE GERMPLASM AND PRODUCTION SYSTEMS FOR EFFICIENCY, PROFIT, AND SUSTAINABILITY OF DAIRY FARMS Title: Red Clover Breeding Progress

Author
item Riday, Heathcliffe

Submitted to: Plant Breeding
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: August 20, 2010
Publication Date: December 1, 2010
Citation: Riday, H. 2010. Red Clover Breeding Progress. Plant Breeding. 4:22-29.

Interpretive Summary: Red clover (Trifolium pratense L.) is an important forage legume grown on approximately 4 million hectares worldwide. It has a long and varied history in agriculture. The major focus of breeding and accompanying research efforts has involved increasing persistence. More recently selection for grazing tolerance has gained prominence as the proportion of red clover acreage in pasture conditions has increased. Genomic resources in red clover have matured with the availability of numerous genetic maps and publicly available molecular markers. Numerous opportunities still exist to improve agronomic characteristics of red clover, particularly by increasing biomass yield and persistence.

Technical Abstract: Red clover (Trifolium pratense L.) is an important forage legume grown on approximately 4 million hectares worldwide. It has a long and varied history in agriculture. Active breeding efforts began at the end of the 19th century. Since this time significant improvement in red clover cultivar for agricultural and environmentally important traits has been achieved. The major focus of breeding and accompanying research efforts has involved increasing persistence. Improved persistence has been achieved through disease resistance breeding and selection for general field based plant vigor and persistence. More recently selection for grazing tolerance has gained prominence as the proportion of red clover acreage in pasture conditions has increased. Breeding for reduced phytoestrogens levels has increased the safety of grazing red clover by sheep. Genomic resources in red clover have matured with the availability of numerous genetic maps and publicly available molecular markers. Transformation techniques have been developed to allow creation of genetically modified plants. With the sequencing of the Medicago truncatula genome and ongoing molecular work in Medicago sativa and white clover numerous other resources have become available for molecular breeding in red clover. Transgenic red clover plants have been developed in connection with studies of protyolitic inhibition of ensiled red clover forage. Numerous opportunities still exist to improve agronomic characteristics of red clover, particularly by increasing biomass yield and persistence. In an environment with expensive fossil-fuel based fertilizer developing and maintaining improved red clover through breeding will continue to remain important.

Last Modified: 9/10/2014
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