Nodule occupancy of effective rhizobia vary between historical and modern cultivars of white clover

Journal Article
The ability of plants to select effective symbiotic partners is crucial for optimum plant growth. In New Zealand, breeding programmes for white clover (Trifolium repens) have made selections largely based on above-ground characteristics, with little direct attention given to the ability of cultivars to form effective below-ground associations. The ability of three pairs of historical (1930s–1950s), and modern (2000s) cultivars of white clover, to form associations with effective strains of Rhizobium leguminosarum (rhizobia) from a mixture of strains was tested in vitro. First, the efficacy of six individual strains of rhizobia was ranked against all six clover cultivars with shoot biomass used as a direct measure of symbiotic effectiveness for each strain × cultivar combination. Next, each cultivar was inoculated with a mixture of all rhizobia strains at the same cell concentration to examine the identity and frequency of strains found on each host. There was a positive relationship between nodule occupancy and strain effectiveness for historical but not modern cultivars. Cultivars Grasslands Huia and Louisiana (both historical) had nodule occupancy increase with strain effectiveness. This study provides some evidence that historical cultivars may be better able to form associations with effective strains of rhizobia compared with modern cultivars.
© 2024 The Author(s). Published by Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group.
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