Submitted to: Book Chapter
Publication Type: Book / Chapter
Publication Acceptance Date: March 30, 1998
Publication Date: N/A
Interpretive Summary: Birdsfoot trefoil is an important forage that is widely distributed and broadly adapted to a broad range of environments. Much of birdsfoot trefoil's wide range of adaptation is due to its highly variable genetic diversity. However, as with many other forage species, a limited amount of the potential genetic base has been used for cultivar development. To avoid future genetic bottlenecks and to efficiently utilize genetic diversity, research approaches should be used to determine the structure of the genetic diversity that already exists for crops such as birdsfoot trefoil. This chapter reviews what is known about the genetic origins of birdsfoot trefoil and describes how this information can be used to design new improved cultivars that utilize a wider range of the natural genetic variation that is available. Recent research findings that utilize new molecular genetic techniques help to illustrate how this important crop can be further improved and gives insights into these applications for other species.
Technical Abstract: Lotus corniculatus L. (birdsfoot trefoil) is one of 12 diploid and tetraploid species that comprise the genetically diverse old-world L. corniculatus complex. The range of potential genetic variation available for Lotus crop improvement has been classified to be between 60 and 200 species that are distributed throughout the world. However, only a small amount of this potential variation has been utilized in birdsfoot trefoil genetic improvement. By examining the phylogenetic relationships among diverse birdsfoot trefoil accessions with those of closely allied species, it is possible to estimate where unique traits may be found for further genetic improvement. This monograph chapter provides a synthesis of previously published research combined with recent research findings that use molecular genetic techniques to illustrate how future birdsfoot trefoil cultivars may be developed using methods that don't rely on single gene improvement strategies.