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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Title: Dealing with Diversity: Seed Production Strategies in a Forage Legume Germplasm Collection

Author
item Greene, Stephanie

Submitted to: International Herbage Seed Conference
Publication Type: Proceedings
Publication Acceptance Date: July 3, 2003
Publication Date: November 1, 2003
Citation: Greene, S.L. 2003. Dealing with diversity: Seed production strategies in a forage legume germplasm collection. In Redlands Park (ed). Herbage Seeds in the New Millennium-new markets, new products, new opportunities. Proceedings of the 5th International Herbage Seed Conference. pp. 88-92. Nov. 23-26, Gatton, Australia.

Interpretive Summary: Alfalfa and other forage legume crops make a significant, but largely unrecognized contribution to world food production. The U.S. National Temperate Forage Legume Germplasm Collection makes seed available to support the development of new cultivars, and development of new uses for cultivated species, as well as supporting basic and applied botanical research. A second important function is the conservation of crop biological diversity through the preservation of seed under ex situ conditions. To maintain the seed collections we use procedures that minimize genetic change that may occur during the production of a new generation of seed. In this paper we outline our routine protocols, as well as specialized protocols that are being developed for recalcitrant wild species, and for seed lots that are degraded due to age.

Technical Abstract: Alfalfa and other forage legume crops make a significant, but largely unrecognized contribution to world food production. The U.S. National Temperate Forage Legume Germplasm Collection makes seed available to support the development of new cultivars, and development of new uses for cultivated species, as well as supporting basic and applied botanical research. A second important function is the conservation of crop biological diversity through the preservation of seed under ex situ conditions. The temperate forage legume germplasm collection houses over 7600 Medicago accessions, representing 79 species; 3500 Trifolium accessions (perennial species), representing 108 species and 900 Lotus accessions, representing 47 species. To maintain the seed collections, we produce seed on 350-400 accessions each year. We use procedures that minimize genetic change that may occur during the production of a new generation of seed. To maintain genetic integrity we isolate cross-pollinated accessions in cages, introduce bees as pollinators, grow as many individual plants as practical, attempt to minimize selection pressure and equalize parent contributions by using optimal growing and harvesting procedures. In this paper we outline our routine protocols, as well as specialized protocols that are being developed for recalcitrant wild species, and for seed lots that are degraded due to age.

Last Modified: 9/21/2014
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