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  1. Vol. 43 No. 4, p. 1441-1447
     
    Received: July 22, 2002
    Published: July, 2003


    * Corresponding author(s): jvolenec@purdue.edu
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doi:10.2135/cropsci2003.1441

Root Physiology of Less Fall Dormant, Winter Hardy Alfalfa Selections

  1. D. M. Haagenson,
  2. S. M. Cunningham and
  3. J. J. Volenec *
  1. Dep. of Agronomy, Purdue Univ., West Lafayette, IN 47907-1150

Abstract

The physiological mechanisms causing fall dormancy (FD)-induced differences in alfalfa (Medicago sativa L.) shoot growth in autumn and winter hardiness are not understood. The objective of this research was to examine root physiology of experimental germplasms selected for decreased FD that also were selected simultaneously for high winter hardiness. Dormant and semi-dormant cultivars and germplasms had high root sugar concentrations that were positively associated with winter hardiness. Root amino N and protein levels in December were greater for germplasms selected for decreased FD and increased winter hardiness than for cultivars with comparable levels of winter hardiness. Among the five most fall dormant cultivars Vernal incurred the greatest amount of winter injury and it had lower root amino-N concentrations when compared with three of the other four dormant cultivars and germplasms. Germplasm 98-132 with an intermediate FD, incurred relatively low winter injury, similar to that of fall dormant Vernal, when compared with other intermediate dormancy cultivars and germplasms. This germplasm had root sugar concentrations that were similar to plants with FD ratings of 1 to 3. Creation of even less FD germplasms that possess high winter hardiness would facilitate our understanding of the physiological and molecular mechanisms controlling these two very important agronomic traits of alfalfa.

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Copyright © 2003. Crop Science Society of AmericaPublished in Crop Sci.43:1441–1447.