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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Title: Status of the Medicago Germplasm Collection in the United States

Authors
item Bauchan, Gary
item Greene, Stephanie

Submitted to: Plant Genetic Resources Newsletter
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: January 20, 2002
Publication Date: June 20, 2002
Citation: Bauchan, G.R., Greene, S.L. 2002. Status of the Medicago germplasm collection in the United States. Plant Genetic Resources Newsletter 129:1-8.

Interpretive Summary: This paper describes the status of the United States collection of Medicago species that is maintained by the USDA National Plant Germplasm System (NPGS) located at the Western Regional Plant Introduction Station in Pullman, Washington. The current collection contains a total of 7,554 accessions with 4,108 perennial accessions and 3,446 annual accessions. Approximately a third of the collection has been evaluated for 14 diseases, six insects, 25 agronomic traits, chromosome number, seven feed quality traits, and five stress tolerant traits. Core subsets have been developed for the perennial and annual species. Also described in the paper is the impact the germplasm collection has had on alfalfa cultivar development in the US. In a survey of 500 US alfalfa cultivars released from 1990 to 1999, about 69% had lineage that could be traced back to accessions brought in by early USDA plant introduction activities. Although the collection continues to support cultivar development in the United States, today, the majority of requested germplasm is intended for applied and basic research projects. The NPGS Medicago species collection is an international treasure that requires continued vigilance to maintain the current collection, otherwise future collections, evaluations and enhancements would be of little value.

Technical Abstract: The United States collection of Medicago species is maintained by the USDA National Plant Germplasm System (NPGS) located at the Western Regional Plant Introduction Station in Pullman, Washington. The current collection contains a total of 7,554 accessions with 4,108 perennial accessions and 3,446 annual accessions. The beginning of the collection traces back to N.E. Hansen and his collection in Russia in 1898. Approximately a third of the collection has been evaluated for 14 diseases, six insects, 25 agronomic traits, chromosome number, seven feed quality traits, and five stress tolerant traits. Core subsets have been developed for the perennial and annual species. Early in the history of alfalfa cultivar development, accessions within the collection were instrumental in expanding commercial production of alfalfa into the northern and eastern United States. In a survey of 500 US alfalfa cultivars released from 1990 to 1999, about 69%had lineage that could be traced back to accession brought in by early USDA plant introduction activities. Although the collection continues to support cultivar development in the United States, today, the majority of requested germplasm is intended for applied and basic research projects. The collection utilizes the advice and talents of an Alfalfa Crop Germplasm Committee (ACGC) that consists of 21 members representing federal, state and private interests. The NPGS Medicago species collection is an international treasure that requires continued vigilance to maintain the current collection, otherwise future collections, evaluations and enhancements would be of little value.

Last Modified: 8/22/2014
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