Plant and Soil

, Volume 82, Issue 3, pp 303–314 | Cite as

A multiple-trait breeding program for improving the symbiosis for N2 fixation betweenMedicago sativa L. andRhizobium meliloti

  • D. K. Barnes
  • G. H. Heichel
  • C. P. Vance
  • W. R. Ellis
Article

Summary

The goal of breeding alfalfa for increased N2 fixation potential is addressed. A chronological progression of breeding, physiological, microbiological, and plant pathological research is described. Studies describing the interrelationships among plant morphological, plant physiological, andRhizobium effectiveness traits are summarized. It was concluded that N2 fixation in alfalfa is affected by coordinated responses among many physiological and biochemical traits. The simultaneous improvement of many factors in the symbiosis requires a comprehensive multiple-step breeding program. The current program includes selection in the glasshouse for seedling vigor,Rhizobium preference, shoot growth, nodule mass, root growth, nitrogenase (as measured by acetylene reduction), and nodule enzyme activity. The inclusion of additional selection traits is anticipated. Field evaluations of N2 fixation potential of alfalfa populations are made with15N isotope dilution techniques. Plant germplasm sources used in the breeding program include several heterogeneous populations which have good combining ability and pest resistance when they are intercrossed. Significant progress has been made in achieving the goal of breeding alfalfa for improved N2 fixation.

Key words

Acetylene reduction Disease resistance Host-Rhizobium strain interaction Nitrate reductase Nodule enzymes Nodule mass 15N evaluation Plant vigor 

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Copyright information

© Martinus Nijhoff/Dr W. Junk Publishers 1984

Authors and Affiliations

  • D. K. Barnes
    • 1
  • G. H. Heichel
    • 1
  • C. P. Vance
    • 1
  • W. R. Ellis
    • 1
  1. 1.USDA-Agricultural Research Service at the University of MinnesotaSt. PaulUSA

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