NIR-Prediction of water-soluble carbohydrate in white clover and its genetic relationship with cold tolerance

Luis Inostroza1*, Iris Lobos2, Hernán Acuña3, Catalina Vásquez3, Gerardo Tapia1, and Gerson Monzón4
In temperate climates, cold stress constrains productivity of white clover (Trifolium repens L.), the most important perennial forage legume in intensive grazing systems for ruminants. Metabolism of water sugar carbohydrate (WSC) has been proposed as an important trait conferring cold tolerance to white clover. Conventional methodologies for WSC determination are considered high-cost and time-consuming. Near-infrared (NIR) spectroscopy is a robust, reliable, and high-throughput methodology to estimate chemical composition of forage species. The objectives of this work were to determine the accuracy of NIR spectroscopy for predicting WSC in stolon samples of white clover, and to evaluate the genetic relationship between WSC and cold tolerance. A white clover association mapping (WCAM) population was stablished in three location that represent a winter low temperature gradient associated with altitude. Dry matter production and some morphological traits were evaluated during three growing seasons. Samples for WSC determination were collected three time during a winter period. Samples were scanned with a NIR system, and a prediction model for WSC was fitted using partial least squares (PLS) regression. The adjusted prediction model achieved suitable predictive ability (R2 > 0.85). The WSC per se did not show significant genetic relationship with morphological and agronomically important traits. However, the WSC degradation rate (WSCdr) across the winter period showed significant genetic correlation with DM production during spring (rg = 0.64), which is the result of genetic/physiological mechanism expressed during the cold period. The NIR spectroscopy is a reliable and high-throughput methodology to predict WSC in stolon samples of white clover. The metabolism of WSC, evaluated as WSCdr, is involved in the cold tolerance of the WCAM population. The methodology implemented in this work is suitable to be applied in a plant breeding program routine
Keywords: Broad sense heritability, genetic correlation, high-throughput phenotyping, PLS regression Trifolium repens.
1Instituto de Investigaciones Agropecuarias, INIA Quilamapu, Avda. Vicente Méndez 515, Chillán, Chile.
*Corresponding author (linostroza@inia.cl).
2Instituto de Investigaciones Agropecuarias, INIA Remehue, Ruta 5 Sur, km 8, Osorno, Chile.
3Universidad de Concepción, Facultad de Agronomía, Av. Vicente Méndez 595, Chillán, Chile.
4Universidad de Tarapacá, Facultad de Ciencias Agronómicas, Campus Azapa, km 12 Valle de Azapa, Casilla 6-D Arica, Chile.