Abstract Detail

Crops and Wild Relatives

Herron, Sterling [1], Rubin, Matthew [2], Ciotir, Claudia [3], Van Tassel, David [4], Miller, Allison [5].

Life history affects seed size and first year root:shoot allocation in Glycine, Lupinus, Phaseolus, and Vigna (Fabaceae).

Perennial herbaceous grains have recently received attention for their potential to provide ecosystem services in sustainable agriculture, primarily through their deep root systems’ capacity to retain and utilize soil, water, and nutrients unavailable to traditional annual cultivars. Legumes (Fabaceae Lindl.) are of special interest due to their ability to fix nitrogen in their roots and produce protein-rich seeds. However, perennial legumes have yet to enter widespread use as grains, and their response to artificial selection for increased seed yield remains unclear. Here we compare both wild and domesticated varieties of closely related annual and perennial herbaceous legume species to determine what, if any, differences exist for seed size, germination, and root/shoot biomass allocation. We chose four diverse legume genera based on the presence of major annual cultivars with several herbaceous perennial wild relatives: Glycine (soybean), Lupinus (lupines), Phaseolus (common bean), and Vigna (cowpea). In total, 18 annual and 25 perennial species were studied; 6,000 seeds were imaged and germinated, and 1,500 of these were planted and analyzed for their biomass allocation. We found a significant effect of life history (annual or perennial) and species on seed weight and area, shoot biomass, and root biomass. Across all genera, annuals had an overall higher seed size and shoot biomass, whereas perennials showed a significantly higher root biomass allocation, especially in terms of the root:shoot biomass ratio. This is consistent with predictions that perennials allocate greater resources to roots relative to annuals. Interestingly, some tropical perennial species, such as Phaseolus coccineus, exhibit seed weight and shoot biomass that surpasses that of annuals, challenging traditional life history predictions that annuals always allocate more to their reproductive structures. Such phenotypic variation in perennials may promise large potential for increase in seed size in new perennial grain cultivars. This is one of the few studies comparing a broad panel of live annual and perennial specimens grown simultaneously in a common environment. Our findings also highlight the need for revitalization of research into diverse groups of annuals and perennials for underrepresented traits such as germination, root size and structure, and reproductive yield. Extensions of this study will include a multiyear analysis of perennial legumes undergoing artificial selection for a specific set of seed improvement traits, as well as the development of genetic markers to improve future breeding initiatives.

1 - Donald Danforth Plant Science Center, c/o Allison Miller Lab, 975 N Warson Road, Saint Louis, MO, 63132, USA
2 - Donald Danforth Plant Science Center, c/o Allison Miller Lab, 975 N Warson Road, Saint Louis, MO, 63132, United States
3 - Saint Louis University, Department of Biology, 5800 Highland Plaza Dr., Apt. 112, St. Louis, MO, 63110, USA
4 - The Land Institute, 2440 E Water Well Rd,, Salina, KS, 67401, United States
5 - Saint Louis Univ./Danforth Plant Science Center, Biology, 3507 Laclede Avenue, Macelwane Hall, St. Louis, MO, 63110, United States

life history
perennial agriculture
annual perennial
herbaceous perennial
perennial grain
perennial plant
sustainable agriculture.

Presentation Type: Oral Paper
Abstract ID:764
Candidate for Awards:None

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