The use of grass/clover mixtures contributes to a sustainable agriculture by reducing nitrogen fertilization and increasing the nutritional value of food. Plant architecture is an important aspect of persistence and is controlled by both genetics and environment. From the wide range of branching phenotypes in red clover two contrasting genotypes were analyzed: a highly branched and creeping (Crossway2), and a poor branching and erect genotype (Diplomat8). Branching was followed during one growing season and in two different environments (container field and growth chamber). There is a clear difference in the number of nodes and the number and position of bud outgrowth into branches. In Crossway2 bud outgrowth started from the lowest nodes, and a regular growth pattern was observed with a similar branching pattern for the first and higher order branches. Branching in Diplomat8 started only from node 4 and bud outgrowth was very irregular. Comparable results were obtained for both environments suggesting a good heritability of branching patterns. Besides the morphological analysis the contrasting genotypes will be analyzed on a physiological and molecular level. Future challenge will be to apply this knowledge in red clover breeding programs to produce plants with added value towards yield and persistence.
- Models, Biological