C3G: Lolium and Trifolium genetics, genomics and germplasm development

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Effective start/end date01 Apr 201231 Mar 2017


Elucidating the genetic architecture of quantitative traits is of particular significance for perennial forages such as the ryegrasses and clovers; targets include biomass yield, flowering time, and quality traits such as water soluble carbohydrates, digestibility and protein content, abiotic and biotic stress tolerances and nutrient use efficiencies. The increasing potential of ryegrass as a source of renewable bioenergy emphasizes the importance of being able to manipulate genomes to enhance targeted traits. We are using a range of experimental genetic populations in ryegrasses and clovers (bi-parental mapping, nested association mapping, genomic selection) to both identify markers associated with key traits which can be deployed in traditional breeding programmes and to develop marker-driven breeding protocols to enhance the efficiency of the crop improvement process. This work is done in close collaboration with commercial plant breeders in order to ensure direct relevance. Additionally, we are seeking to generate and identify new sources of variation by manipulating genetic recombination frequencies and incompatibility systems and by exploring the range of ecotypic variation that exists in IBERS germplasm collections.