Phenotypic variation and quantitative trait loci for resistance to southern anthracnose and clover rot in red clover

  • Lea A. Frey (Creator)
  • Tim Vleugels (Creator)
  • Tom Ruttink (Creator)
  • Franz X. Schubiger (Creator)
  • Marie Pégard (Creator)
  • Leif Skot (Creator)
  • Christoph Grieder (Creator)
  • Bruno Studer (Creator)
  • Isabel Roldan-Ruiz (Creator)
  • Roland Kölliker (Creator)



Red clover (<em>Trifolium pratense</em> L.) is an important forage legume of temperate regions, particularly valued for its high yield potential and its high forage quality. Despite substantial breeding progress during the last decades, continuous improvement of cultivars is crucial to ensure yield stability in view of newly emerging diseases or changing climatic conditions. The high amount of genetic diversity present in red clover ecotypes, landraces and cultivars provides an invaluable, but often unexploited resource for the improvement of key traits such as yield, quality, and resistance to biotic and abiotic stresses.

A collection of 397 red clover accessions was genotyped using a pooled genotyping-by-sequencing approach with 200 plants per accession. Resistance to the two most pertinent diseases in red clover production, southern anthracnose caused by <em>Colletotrichum trifolii</em>, and clover rot caused by <em>Sclerotinia trifoliorum, </em>was assessed using spray inoculation. The mean survival rate for southern anthracnose was 22.9% and the mean resistance index for clover rot was 34.0%. Genome-wide association analysis revealed several loci significantly associated with resistance to southern anthracnose and clover rot. Most of these loci are in coding regions. One quantitative trait locus (QTL) on chromosome 1 explained 16.8% of the variation in resistance to southern anthracnose. For clover rot resistance we found eight QTL, explaining together 80.2% of the total phenotypic variation. The SNPs associated with these QTL provide, once validated, a promising resource for marker-assisted selection in existing breeding programs, facilitating the development of novel cultivars with increased resistance against two devastating fungal diseases of red clover.
Date made available23 May 2022

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