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Crop Biotech Update

Scientists Share Advances in Alfalfa Genome Research

July 20, 2016

A team of researchers from the Noble Foundation, University of Minnesota, and the National Center for Genome Resources reports new developments in sequencing the alfalfa genome on July 13 at the North American Alfalfa Improvement Conference in Madison, Wisconsin.

Dr. Maria Monteros, Noble Foundation associate professor in legume breeding said that the alfalfa genome is one of the most complex plant genomes to sequence. The team reports that as a legume, alfalfa can satisfy its nitrogen needs through its symbiotic relationship with rhizobia. This important trait removes the need for additional nitrogen fertilizer inputs to support plant growth. Understanding alfalfa's genome sequence could lead to plants that could survive in stressful environments such as drought and animal grazing. It could also produce higher biomass yields when baled as hay, extend its growing season, and adapt better to different soil types and nutrient levels.

Dr. Joann Mudge, National Center for Genome Resources senior research scientist said, "We have made significant progress on the project as genomicists are putting the final pieces into place. Researchers may now be able to use the information for practical purposes to support plant breeding decisions."

For more information, read the news release at the Noble Foundation website.