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Abstract Detail

Biotic and abiotic stress

Arshad, Muhammad [1], Gruber, Margaret [2], Hannoufa, Abdelali [1].

A step ahead: Improving alfalfa for biomass and environmental stresses.

Alfalfa is the most widely cultivated forage in North America and the world and it has recently gained interest as a cellulosic biofuel crop to meet ever increasing energy demands. As a legume crop, alfalfa enhances soil fertility and its deeper root system prevents soil erosion. Despite these benefits and commercial uses, alfalfa crop is not without problems and, particularly, environmental stresses are a threat to its productivity and yield. To address these issues, we adopted genetic approaches that provided deep insight into molecular differences in alfalfa. In the first step, we have discovered and implemented a genetic modification in alfalfa that results in substantial improvement to biomass yield and a delay in flowering. To explore effects of this genetic manipulation on other important traits, we compared physiological and molecular responses of the genetically modified plants to wild type plants of alfalfa and obtained evidence that they result in enhanced stress resistance. Under stress conditions, we observed significant changes in expression of candidate genes putatively involved in stress coping mechanisms, which is consistent with our physiological data. We are further exploring the role of these genetic modifications in biomass enhancement and stress resistance by conducting various physiological and molecular analyses. For example metabolite profiling, hormone quantification, expression analysis and next generation sequencing in an attempt to find candidate genes that will serve as molecular markers for biomass accumulation and stress resistance in alfalfa. These molecular markers will be beneficial for alfalfa industry, and they can also aid and expedite breeding processes in alfalfa.

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1 - Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, 1391 Sandford Street, London , Ontario, N5V 4T3, Canada
2 - Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, 107 Science Place, Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, S7N 0X2, Canada

stress tolerance
Molecular markers.

Presentation Type: Oral Paper:Papers for Topics
Session: 7
Location: Salon 13/14/The Shaw Conference Centre
Date: Monday, July 27th, 2015
Time: 11:15 AM
Number: 7013
Abstract ID:412
Candidate for Awards:None

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