Main content area

Adaptive ecology of Lotus corniculatus L. genotypes. I. Plant morphology and RAPD marker characterization

Steiner, J.J., Santos, G.G. de los.
Crop science 2001 v.41 no.2 pp. 552
Lotus corniculatus, plant ecology, plant morphology, genetic markers, plant genetic resources, geographical variation, provenance, genetic distance, habitats, genotype, random amplified polymorphic DNA technique
Birdsfoot trefoil (Lotus corniculatus L.) is a highly variable and widely distributed Old-World perennial forage legume found in wild and naturalized populations throughout temperate regions of Europe, Asia Minor, North Africa, North and South America, Australia, and New Zealand. Understanding the relationships among birdsfoot trefoil morphologic, ecogeographic, and genetic characteristics may provide insights for better utilizing exotic germplasm. The objectives of this research were to (i) compare morphologic and random amplified polymorphic DNA (RAPD) classifications of 28 exotic and ecologically diverse genotypes from the USDA National Plant Germplasm System (NPGS) birdsfoot trefoil collection, and (ii) determine the relationships between genotype classifications and collecting-site ecogeographic features. Eighteen morphologic characteristics, 130 RAPD bands, and eight collecting-site ecogeographic characteristics were used to classify the genotypes. The relatedness of genetic, morphologic, ecologic, and geographic distances among the genotypes was measured using the product moment correlation. Genotype morphology was related to collecting-site distances from one another and ecologic similarity. Genetic relatedness was also associated with collecting-site ecology, and specific morphologic characteristics were associated with different ecogeographic features. The similarity between the genetic and ecologic classifications suggested that genotypes adapted to similar habitats, even if geographically distant, have acquired similar phenotypes. Since RAPD descriptors were associated with the ecologic similarity of genotype collecting sites but not with their geographic closeness, classifications of birdsfoot trefoil should rely on both ecogeographic and morphologic characteristics of accessions.