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ARS Home » Midwest Area » St. Paul, Minnesota » Plant Science Research » Research » Research Project #443164

Research Project: Screening Alfalfa Cultivars for Value-Added Biochemical Characteristics

Location: Plant Science Research

Project Number: 5062-21500-001-012-R
Project Type: Reimbursable Cooperative Agreement

Start Date: Sep 12, 2022
End Date: Sep 30, 2024

1) Measure biochemical profiles from three commercial alfalfa cultivars and two soybean cultivars to compare value-added characteristics that would affect future market potential. 2) Screen 50 lines (cultivars or accessions) for two value-added traits identified in objective 1 important to market potential.

Objective 1: Three common alfalfa cultivars with identical dormancies will be selected by ARS and screened at late bud for detailed biochemical characteristics. Cultivars will be harvested 4 times and each cutting will be treated as a separate sample. Dried forage samples will be analyzed for traditional dietary fibers (NDF,ADF, ADL), crude protein, total fatty acid profile, and anti-nutrients such as saponins, phytoestrogens, and isoflavones. These traits will be compared to 2 average quality soybean cultivars currently in production for possible value-added traits present in alfalfa protein. The initial analyses of the quality characteristics will be conducted by a commercial laboratory. Objective 2: Fifty genetically diverse lines have been planted the University of Minnesota Agricultural Experiment Station in St. Paul and Rosemonte Minnesota. These lines were selected for historically high protein concentrations. These lines will be screened for at least two traits that were identified in objective one. Fresh samples will be pressed and juiced to separate the proteins from fibrous tissue. The protein concentrate will be used to quantify the traits selected from dried material in objective 1. The Heuschele Forage Quality Lab at the USDA will use standard HPLC protocols to quantify the traits chosen.