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Agronomy Journal Abstract -

Transmittance of the Multifoliolate Leaf Characteristic into Non-Dormant Alfalfa1


This article in AJ

  1. Vol. 68 No. 1, p. 134-136
    Received: May 14, 1975

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  1. M. A. Brick,
  2. A. K. Dobrenz and
  3. M. H. Schonhorst2



Variation in leaf morphology and canopy architecture in alfalfa (Medicago sativa L.) has received comparatively little attention despite the importance of the leaf in photosynthesis and nutritive value of the forage. The multifoliolate leaf characteristics presents a potential mechanism whereby quality and leafiness can be changed. This investigation was designed to study the penetrance of the multifoliolate trait into ‘Mesa-Sirsa,’ a non-dormant trifoliolate cultivar.

Hand and bee-pollinated reciprocal crosses were made between a trifoliolate (tf) Mesa-Sirsa clone and four multifoliolate (mf) alfalfa clones to determine if genes for the mf trait could be transmitted and expressed in the F1 generation. Specific leaf weight and internode length were studied in the F1 generation of controlled handpollinated crosses.

The multifoliolate characteristic was effectively transmitted in both hand and bee-pollinated experiments with an average expression of 33%. Expression of the mf trait among progeny of the four multifoliolate clones ranged from 8 to 47%. Average specific leaf weight was consistently higher in the mf progeny compared to the tf progeny, however, these differences were not significant expect in progeny of Mesa-Sirsa × mf 2. Average internode length varied significantly among crosses and between the tf and mf progeny of crosses MS × mf 1 and MS × mf 2. The multifoliolate clones used in this study had the normal tetraploid complement of 32 chromosomes.

The multifoliolate characteristic is an easily transmittable trait and through careful selection could be used to improve the leafiness and canopy architecture of nondormant alfalfa.

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