Clovers (genus Trifolium) are a large and widespread genus of legumes. A number of clovers are of agricultural importance as forage crops in grassland agriculture, particularly temperate areas. White clover (Trifolium repens L.) is used in grazed pasture and red clover
[...] Read more.
Clovers (genus Trifolium
) are a large and widespread genus of legumes. A number of clovers are of agricultural importance as forage crops in grassland agriculture, particularly temperate areas. White clover (Trifolium repens
L.) is used in grazed pasture and red clover (T. pratense
L.) is widely cut and conserved as a winter feed. For the diploid red clover, genetic and genomic tools and resources have developed rapidly over the last five years including genetic and physical maps, BAC (bacterial artificial chromosome) end sequence and transcriptome sequence information. This has paved the way for the use of genome wide selection and high throughput phenotyping in germplasm development. For the allotetraploid white clover progress has been slower although marker assisted selection is in use and relatively robust genetic maps and QTL (quantitative trait locus) information now exist. For both species the sequencing of the model legume Medicago truncatula
gene space is an important development to aid genomic, biological and evolutionary studies. The first genetic maps of another species, subterranean clover (Trifolium subterraneum
L.) have also been published and its comparative genomics with red clover and M. truncatula
Next generation sequencing brings the potential to revolutionize clover genomics, but international consortia and effective use of germplasm, novel population structures and phenomics will be required to carry out effective translation into breeding. Another avenue for clover genomic and genetic improvement is interspecific hybridization. This approach has considerable potential with regard to crop improvement but also opens windows of opportunity for studies of biological and evolutionary processes.