Variation in Response to Moisture Stress of Young Plants of Interspecific Hybrids between White Clover (T. repens L.) and Caucasian Clover (T. ambiguum M. Bieb.)

Type Special issue
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)353-366
Number of pages13
Issue number2
Early online date19 Jun 2015
Publication statusPublished - 19 Jun 2015
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Backcross hybrids between the important forage legume white clover (Trifolium repens L.), which is stoloniferous, and the related rhizomatous species Caucasian clover (T. ambiguum M. Bieb), have been produced using white clover as the recurrent parent. The effect of drought on the parental species and two generations of backcrosses were studied in a short-term glasshouse experiment under three intensities of drought. Plants of Caucasian clover maintained a higher leaf relative water content and leaf water potential than white clover at comparable levels of drought, with the response of the backcrosses generally intermediate between the parents. Severe drought significantly reduced stolon growth rate and leaf development rate of white clover compared to the control, well-watered treatment, whilst differences between these two treatments in the backcross hybrids were relatively small. The differences between parental species and the backcrosses in root morphology were studied in 1m long vertical pipes. The parental species differed in root weight distribution, with root weight of Caucasian clover significantly greater than white clover in the 0.1 m to 0.5 m root zone. The backcrosses exhibited root characteristics intermediate between the parents. The extent to which these differences influence the capacity to tolerate drought is discussed.


  • white clover, interspecific hybrids, drought, leaf development rate, root weight distribution