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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Research Project: Acquisition, Evaluation and Conversation of Temperate Forage Legume Genetic Resources

Location: Plant Germplasm Introduction and Testing

Title: Morphological and Molecular Variation in Perennial Medicago (Alfalfa) Germplasm

Authors
item Han, Yuanhong -
item Greene, Stephanie
item Monteros, Maria -

Submitted to: ASA-CSSA-SSSA Annual Meeting Abstracts
Publication Type: Abstract Only
Publication Acceptance Date: August 1, 2010
Publication Date: November 1, 2010
Citation: Han, Y., Greene, S.L., Monteros, M. 2010. Morphological and Molecular Variation in Perennial Medicago (Alfalfa) Germplasm. ASA-CSSA-SSSA Annual Meeting Abstracts. 87-2.

Interpretive Summary: Alfalfa is one of the most important cultivated forages worldwide. If we understand the areas where a crop is adapted and the amount of genetic diversity available to be used, we can identify suitable material to incorporate into breeding programs. We evaluated accessions representing different close alfalfa relatives collected from many different countries. We also assayed their genetic variation using molecular markers. Data was collected for overall performance, plant survival, flower color, pod production, fall dormancy and persistence. Aboveground biomass was harvested and relative water content (RWC) from selected accessions that represent the range of overall performance in the entire collection was measured after growth under drought conditions. We found significant variation for all traits evaluated. These findings tell us that there is abundant variation in alfalfa and that we should be able to identify material suitable for unique target environments.

Technical Abstract: Alfalfa (Medicago sativa L.) is one of the most important cultivated forage legumes worldwide. Understanding the areas of adaptation and genetic variation available in a crop species facilitates efforts to identify suitable germplasm for integration in plant breeding programs. Accessions that represent the USDA perennial Medicago collection includes M. sativa subsp. sativa, M. sativa subsp. varia, M. sativa subsp. falcata and M. sativa subsp. caerulea originating from multiple countries were evaluated under field conditions and assayed for their genetic variation using molecular markers. The experimental design was a randomized complete block design with four replications. Data from all accessions for overall performance, plant survival, flower color, pod production, fall dormancy and persistence were collected. Aboveground biomass was harvested and relative water content (RWC) from selected accessions that represent the range of overall performance in the entire collection was measured after growth under drought conditions. Significant variation for all traits evaluated was observed among the accessions. These findings will contribute to the efficient use and conservation of genetic resources in alfalfa and enable identification of accessions suitable for unique target environments focused on specific breeding objectives.

Last Modified: 9/1/2014