Genetic resources in Trifolium and their utilization in plant breeding

Michael T. Abberton, Ian Thomas

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

13 Citations (Scopus)


Clovers (Trifolium species) are a large and widespread genus of legumes. Recent work supports the Mediterranean origin of the genus in the Early Miocene period, and centres of diversity for clovers occur in the Eastern Mediterranean, East Africa and South America. A number of clovers are of agricultural importance as forage species in grassland agriculture around the world, particularly in temperate areas. White clover (Trifolium repens L.) is the most important legume of grazed pastures, and red clover (T. pratense) is widely cut and conserved as a winter feed. We consider the current state of collected resources in clovers, which have been collated in the most important databases. These are European Internet Search Catalogue (EURISCO), germplasm resources information network and system-wide information network for genetic resources together with the collection held at AgResearch, New Zealand. In total, collections have been made of 204 species with 48 species having more than 100 accessions in these databases. As expected, the majority of accessions are of the agriculturally important species. The geographical origin of collected material is outlined and, for the major species, accessions are broken down according to their status, e.g. wild population, breeders' lines. We then describe some of the ways in which genetic resources of white and red clovers and their relatives have been used in the breeding of these species. These include introgression of stress tolerance traits, targetting improvements in resource use efficiency and increasing seed yield.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)38-44
Number of pages7
JournalPlant Genetic Resources: Characterization and Utilization
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 17 Nov 2010


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