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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 Research

2010 Annual Report

1a. Objectives (from AD-416)
Objective 1: Strategically expand the genetic diversity in genebank collections and improve associated information for priority Medicago, Trifolium, and Lotus genetic resources. Sub-objective 3C In cooperation with U. S. and Russian researchers, produce an Interactive Agricultural Atlas of Russia and Neighboring Countries which will be accessible on the internet and on CD-ROM. Sub-objectives 1A. Acquire samples and associated information to fill identified gaps in the NPGS collections of Medicago, Lotus, and Trifolium. Sub-sub-objective 1A1. Collect or obtain from the United States, the Mediterranean Basin, and Central Asia, targeted species. Sub-sub-objective 1A2. Survey existing holdings of Medicago truncatula genetic stocks (a model species for legume genomics) and acquire priority materials. Sub-objective 1B. Identify and establish in situ sites for endemic species of Lotus, and Trifolium. Sub-sub-objective 1B1. In cooperation with the U. S. Forest Service and other public land agencies, survey and identify in situ seed collection sites. Sub-sub-objective 1B2. Using a model trifolium species, define in situ conservation parameters needed for outcrossing, insect-pollinated wild legume species. Sub-objective 1C. Based on earlier research, collaborate with Kazakh researchers to identify and establish sites in Kazakhstan for in situ conservation of wild relatives of alfalfa. Objective 2: Conserve and regenerate priority Medicago, Trifolium, and Lotus genetic resources efficiently and effectively, and distribute pathogen-tested samples and associated information worldwide. Sub-objective 2A. Regenerate, conserve, and distribute more than 12,000 accessions of temperate forage legume genetic resources and associated information, emphasizing accessions with low germination, open-pollinated seed stocks, few seeds in storage, or those not yet backed-up at second sites. Sub-objective 2B. Increase to 90 percent the proportion of the collection backed-up at second sites, emphasizing critical back-ups of Medicago, Trifolium, and Lotus. Sub-objective 2C. Regenerate 150-300 accessions of Medicago, Trifolium, and Lotus per year, emphasizing controlled pollination of original or “next best” seed lots for Trifolium and Lotus, so as to systematically replace open-pollinated seed lots. Objective 3: Strategically characterize (“genotype”) and evaluate (“phenotype”) priority Medicago, Trifolium, and Lotus genetic resources for molecular markers, morphological descriptors, and key agronomic traits. Sub-objective 3A. With cooperators, apply newly developed DNA genetic marker data to phylogenetic and genetic diversity analyses of priority crops, especially M. truncatula, to develop core subsets. Incorporate characterization data into the Germplasm Resources Information System (GRIN) and/or other databases. Sub-objective 3B. Update and apply phenotypic descriptors for forage legume collections with an emphasis on capturing key floral, fruit, and seed characteristics of regenerated germplasm, and characterizing forage nutrient value.

1b. Approach (from AD-416)
Acquisition of new germplasm for these genera will be achieved via plant exploration/collecting and germplasm exchange. On the ground surveys of the Blue Mountains will continue to identify key areas where in situ collection sites can be designated for multiple Trifolium species. Accessions being regenerated will be evaluated for basic descriptors in the field; data will be placed in GRIN. Field evaluations will occur during the flowering year, which is usually the seedling year. Molecular markers will be used for identifying genetic diversity within and among accessions, identifying geographical or environmental associations, and assisting in identification of redundancy and gaps in collections. Formerly 5348-21000-018-00D (3/08).

3. Progress Report
This project is under National Program 301, Plant Genetic Resources, Genomics, and Genetics Improvement and is aligned with National Program 301 Action Plan Component 1: Plant and Microbial Genetic Resource Management. Problem Statement 1A: Efficiently and Effectively Manage Plant and Microbial Genetic Resources. The work of the National Temperate Forage Legume Germplasm Resources Unit in Prosser, WA focuses on effectively maintaining and charactering a large germplasm collection in order to enhance the use and conservation of these important genetic resources. During the year we increased 360 accessions and completed germination tests on 275 accessions of temperate forage legumes including alfalfa, lotus and trifolium. We obtained over 500 digital images for the GRIN (Germplasm Resources Information Network) database. We distributed 2,520 seed packets of cultivated and wild alfalfa, 1,425 seed packets of Trifolium and 356 seed packets of Lotus to researchers worldwide. We also worked on setting up and implementing a strategy to proof the 85,000 records of georeference for USDA plant germplasm accessions provided by the International Rice Research Institute, so they can be incorporated into the GRIN database. We also developed a preliminary inventory of crop wild relative species that are native or naturalized in the United States. The list contains over 2,600 species and is an important first step for developing a national strategy for conserving the important crop wild relatives that occur in our own back yard. We also completed an analysis of the genetic structure of a rare endemic plant species which will allow us to establish guidelines for conserving this native species in its native habitat.

4. Accomplishments
1. Acquisition of forage legume germplasm from Armenia and Georgia. Medicago truncatula is being used as a model legume species in genomic research, but collections do not include representation form all areas of the species distribution. ARS Researchers at Prosser, WA received 116 accessions of forage legumes from collaborators in Armenia, including 17 accessions of M. truncatula. One seed packet of M. truncatula was received from Georgia. We expect to receive additional perennial forage legume accessions from collaborators in Georgia later in 2010. These new accessions of M. truncatula extend the geographic representation of this important model species for legume genomics research.

Last Modified: 06/28/2017
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