40 I EUROPEAN SEED I EUROPEAN-SEED.COM ES: PROTEIN CONTENT AND DRY-MATTER YIELD ARE ALSO IMPORTANT TARGETS. HOW EASY OR DIFFICULT IS IT TO INCREASE THESE LEVELS? DL: Like all traits, achieving success in dry-matter yield and/or protein content is a question of effort and resources. Dry-matter yield is a simple measure and is typically the most important trait by which potential varieties are assessed. Protein content is more complicated to select for but as long as you have heritable variation you can breed for increased protein content. LJ: Protein content can be increased relatively easy, however, the primary breeding target is dry-matter yield – which is more difficult to increase. ES: WHAT OTHER BREEDING TARGETS DO YOU SPEND YOUR RESOURCES ON FOR CLOVER IN EUROPE? NR: The seed yield of new varieties must be sufficient to ensure, that seed production can be done in an economically sustainable way – so we invest quite a lot in seed yield trials. LC: Yield, persistence and seed production are the core traits in the breeding program. For the red clovers, habit is also impor- tant as it is used for hay/silage and needs to grow with tall fescue or ryegrass in mixed pasture systems. For simplicity, white clover is divided into three different types, based on leaf size (large, medium and small) to help determine which clover types or clover mixes are best suited for the farm system. For example, large and medium types are more oriented towards a cut and carry system for dairy grazing in the majority of Europe, whereas medium to small leaf types that have greater stolon growing point densities, and are more suited to sheep grazing in the UK. DL: Aside from yield and persistency we breed for disease and pest resistance, abiotic stress tolerance and nutrient use efficiency. We have developed hybrids of white and Caucasian clover, such as the variety ‘AberLasting’, that have remarkable drought tolerance, cold tolerance, grazing tolerance and pest resistance. We believe this variety has the potential to make a major difference to grassland agriculture, particularly in areas where white clover struggles to persist. We are also developing grazing tolerant varieties of red clover, which is a very exciting step forward. ES: CREATING DIVERSITY FOR YOUR GROWERS AND CUSTOMERS IS OF CRUCIAL IMPORTANCE FOR ANY BREEDER. WHERE DO YOU GO TO FIND THE NECESSARY GERMPLASM THAT WILL HELP YOU IN YOUR BREEDING WORK? WHAT ARE THE MAIN SOURCE OF YOUR DIVERSITY: MAINLY COMMERCIAL VARIETIES, OR ALSO LANDRACES AND OTHER SPECIES? LC: Our germplasm originates from a range of sources: local and global plant collections from both temperate and continental climates, developing our own germplasm through our crossing program, elite lines and commercial lines. Much of the global plant collections are accessed from germplasm banks. DL: We generally use population based breeding methodologies for our core breeding programmes but we also utilise commer- cial varieties, land races and eco types to source novel variation LJ: The main source for diversity in white- and red clover is commercial varieties, in-house breeding material and collected material from nature. Creating diversity for your growers and customers is of crucial importance for any breeder. ES: DO YOU FIND THAT YOU HAVE SUFFICIENT ACCESS TO NEW GERMPLASM, OR HAS THIS BEEN MADE MORE DIFFICULT BECAUSE OF THE NEW REGULATIONS ON ACCESS AND BENEFIT SHARING? DL: We have an extensive gene bank of tens of thousands of accessions that have been collected from around the world over the last hundred years. Breeding began at the Welsh Plant Breeding Station in Aberystwyth in 1919, we will celebrate our centenary next year. If anything, our problem is finding time to assess the material we already have! Matt Lowe of IBERS, selecting for Sclerotinia and stem eel worm resistance in red clover. (Image courtesy of Germinal Holdings Ltd.)