Defining a Phenotypic Variability and Productivity in Wild Type Red Clover Germplasm

  •  Giedrius Petrauskas    
  •  Vaclovas Stukonis    
  •  Eglė Norkevičienė    


Abiotic and biotic factors can cause great damage to crops. So, a key approach is to investigate whether the crops’ wild relatives are more flexible to withstand abiotic and biotic stress. As well as to evaluate their phenotypic variability and productivity in response to changing climatic conditions.

In this study, red clover germplasm was collected from natural red clover habitats and a field trial was arranged ex situ. Twelve phenotypic traits and their effects on final harvest were analysed in 2018–2019. Principal component analysis (PCA) demonstrated that the most important trait for biomass yield was the height of the plant during the first season of harvest (2018). Interestingly, that the most significant trait in the second year of harvest (2019) was growth habit. Meantime, two way-joining analysis was performed to extent of phenotypic variation within and among red clover accessions, based on the most important trait for biomass yield. We found three main groups based on variation in plant height: “cultivars”, “wilds” and “mediators”. This analysis leads to identify typical populations of wild type red clover, which has not been done yet. Finally, the feed value of each red clover accession was analysed. It was found that “cultivars” have a higher level of crude proteins, while “wilds” contains higher levels of crude fibre. This indicates that there is a relationship between plant structure elements and forage value which is particularly important to select a breeding material.

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