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Conservation Efforts Aided by New Legume

28.04.2011
The Great Basin region of the American West spans 135 million acres in Nevada, Utah, California, Idaho, and Oregon. The high elevation, low precipitation, and extreme temperature fluctuations present difficult conditions for vegetation to thrive. However, when those conditions are coupled with frequent wildfires, climate change, weed invasions and a plethora of human disturbances, natural vegetation struggles to survive.

Reseeding efforts are routine in the Great Basin. While they are necessary to combat the losses of flora in the region, the have failed to address the demand for native legumes. Legumes add nitrogen to the soil, provide a valuable source of food for foragers, and can sustain pollinators. The high cost yet low quality of available legumes and lack of experience in reseeding efforts have been blamed for their absence.

In a study partially funded by the Great Basin Restoration Initiative, scientists at the USDA-ARS Forage and Range Research Lab made 20 collections of Searls prairie clover in an attempt to characterize their potential for agronomic seed production, flowering date and biomass, inherent population relationships, and phenotypic correlation with climate conditions at the collection sites.

The analysis of data gathered at the collection sites found tremendous variation in the observed traits within and among the populations. Nevertheless, researchers discovered that precipitation amounts were related to the potential seed yield and biomass. From this data, seed release strategies were developed and will soon be implemented first at a site in northwestern Utah followed by others.

Shaun Bushman, the author of the study, explained, “This study is paving the way toward agronomic seed production in Searls prairie clover by identifying populations and traits that must be considered for economical and efficient seed production. Additionally, it will allow for germplasm releases to target environments and demographic histories of this species such that the plants will be used in locations to which they are likely adapted. Germplasm development and further studies concerning agronomic practices are underway.”

Results from the study are published in the April 2011 issue of Crop Science.

The full article is available for no charge for 30 days following the date of this summary. View the abstract at www.crops.org/publications/cs/abstracts/51/2/716.

Crop Science is the flagship journal of the Crop Science Society of America. Original research is peer-reviewed and published in this highly cited journal. It also contains invited review and interpretation articles and perspectives that offer insight and commentary on recent advances in crop science. For more information, visit www.crops.org/publications/cs.

The Crop Science Society of America (CSSA), founded in 1955, is an international scientific society comprised of 6,000+ members with its headquarters in Madison, WI. Members advance the discipline of crop science by acquiring and disseminating information about crop breeding and genetics; crop physiology; crop ecology, management, and quality; seed physiology, production, and technology; turfgrass science; forage and grazinglands; genomics, molecular genetics, and biotechnology; and biomedical and enhanced plants.

CSSA fosters the transfer of knowledge through an array of programs and services, including publications, meetings, career services, and science policy initiatives. For more information, visit www.crops.org.

Sara Uttech | Newswise Science News
Further information:
http://www.crops.org

Further reports about: Conservation Science Great Basin crop crop science legume molecular genetic

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