Morphological and genetic variation of plant architecture in Trifolium pratense (red clover)

    Project Details


    Main research question/goal
    The goal of this project is to gain insight into the genetic regulation of architecture and, more specifically, of branching in red clover. Using a number of genotypes with contrasting branching patterns, we perform a detailed analysis of the diversity in branching phenotypes and of the underlying molecular processes. The influence of plant architecture on with important agronomic traits such as biomass yield and persistence is investigated under controlled and in field environments.

    Research approach
    First, the branching of six red clover genotypes with certain branching patterns is studied in detail to gain insight into the signals involved in bud initiation and bud outgrowth. The influence of environmental factors such as re-growth after cutting is also studied. We also look at the influence of the plant hormones strigolactone and auxin on branching. Second, we analyse the molecular regulation of branching. Pathways involved in branching are known in model plants. The role of these pathways in branching of red clover is studied through expression analyses.


    Red clover has several advantages in agriculture: a high seedling vigour, the ability to fixate nitrogen, and a high nutritional value. One disadvantage of the current red clover cultivars is their low persistence. A detailed morphological analysis and an analysis of the physiological and molecular processes controlling red clover architecture enables us to generate tools that can be used in breeding for the selection of high-quality cultivars. We define ideotypes to be used in various agricultural applications, such as an improved erect growing type for mowing, and a prostrate growing type for grazing.
    Effective start/end date1/01/1030/06/14

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