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ARS Home » Midwest Area » Lexington, Kentucky » Forage-animal Production Research » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #324115

Research Project: Sustainable Forage-Based Production for the Mid-South Transition Zone

Location: Forage-animal Production Research

Title: Genetic manipulation of miR156 for improvement of biomass production and forage quality in red clover

Author
item ZHENG, Q - UNIVERSITY OF KENTUCKY
item LIU, J - UNIVERSITY OF KENTUCKY
item GOFF, B - UNIVERSITY OF KENTUCKY
item Dinkins, Randy
item ZHU, H - UNIVERSITY OF KENTUCKY

Submitted to: Crop Science
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 12/22/2015
Publication Date: 4/29/2016
Citation: Zheng, Q., Liu, J., Goff, B.M., Dinkins, R.D., Zhu, H. 2016. Genetic manipulation of miR156 for improvement of biomass production and forage quality in red clover. Crop Science. 56:1199-1205.

Interpretive Summary: Red clover (Trifolium pratense) is an important forage legume in the United States. Improving forage quality and biomass yield is an important goal of clover breeding programs. Plant development, particularly the transition from vegetative to flowering, is an important factor affecting biomass and forage quality. Thus, genetic manipulation of genes that regulate the transition from the vegetative to flowering can be an efficient strategy for genetic improvement of red clover. One such gene is miR156, a microRNA gene, that serves as a master regulator of the transition from vegetative growth to floweirng in plants. We report here the development of transgenic red clover plants overexpressing two tandem miR156s originally derived from the maize Corngrass1. The transgenic plants displayed striking phenotypic changes compared to the wild-type plants, including delayed flowering, increased vegetative branching, enhanced forage yield, and improved forage quality. These results suggest that manipulating miR156 or its target genes is a potential tool for genetic improvement of forage legumes.

Technical Abstract: Red clover (Trifolium pratense) is an important forage legume in the United States. Improving forage quality and biomass yield is an important goal of forage breeding programs. Plant development, particularly the transition from vegetative to reproductive growth, is an important factor affecting biomass accumulation and forage quality. Thus, genetic manipulation of genes that regulate the transition from the vegetative to reproductive phase can be an efficient strategy for genetic improvement of red clover. One such gene is miR156, a microRNA gene that serves as a master regulator of vegetative phase change in land plants. We report here the development of transgenic red clover plants overexpressing the maize Corngrass1 gene encoding two tandem miR156s. The transgenic plants displayed striking phenotypic changes compared to the wild-type plants, including increased vegetative branching, delayed flowering, enhanced forage yield, and improved forage quality. These results suggest that manipulating miR156 or its target genes is a potential tool for genetic improvement of forage legumes.