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Plant Cell Environ. 2017 Oct 18. doi: 10.1111/pce.13090. [Epub ahead of print]

Molecular improvement of alfalfa for enhanced productivity and adaptability in a changing environment.

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Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, Lethbridge Research and Development Centre, Lethbridge, Alberta, T1J 4B1, Canada.
Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, London Research and Development Centre, London, Ontario, N5V 4T3, Canada.


Due to an expanding world population and increased buying power, the demand for ruminant products such as meat and milk is expected to grow substantially in coming years, and high levels of forage crop production will therefore be a necessity. Unfortunately, urbanization of agricultural land, intensive agricultural practices, and climate change are all predicted to limit crop production in the future, which means that the development of forage cultivars with improved productivity and adaptability will be essential. Because alfalfa (Medicago sativa L.) is one of the most widely cultivated perennial forage crops, it has been the target of much research in this field. In this review, we discuss progress that has been made towards the improvement of productivity, abiotic stress tolerance, and nutrient-use efficiency, as well as disease and pest resistance, in alfalfa using biotechnological techniques. Furthermore, we consider possible future priorities and avenues for attaining further enhancements in this crop as a means of contributing to the realization of food security in a changing environment.


biomass yield; biotechnology; forage; stress tolerance


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