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Medicago sativa (alfalfa)


Medicago sativa, commonly called alfalfa, is a forage crop legume. It is a member of the Trifolieae tribe, and a close relative of the reference legume Medicago truncatula

Of Special Interest

See the Alfalfa newsletter, Medicago Genetic Reports (MGR)

NCBI taxon3879
GRIN taxon23676
Pollination typeInsect

Wikipedia entry

Genome Summary

Cultivated Medicago sativa L. (alfalfa) is a tetraploid species (Bauchan and Hossain, 2001). The species is considered a complex due to its broad diversity and wide distribution of germplasm sources (Bauchan and Hossain, 2001), the existence of both diploid and tetraploid races, and the several partially interfertile species or subspecies: M. sativa subsp. caerulea, M. sativa subsp. falcata, and M. sativa subsp. hemicycla (Skiroglu, Doyle, Brummer, 2010).

Chromosomes2n = 4x = 32
Genome size800-900 (Mbp)


Reference Data

Polymorphism DataPolymorphism Data lissnp_medsa-201202LIS reference setsDownload »
Transcript AssemblyTranscript assembly lista_medsa-201202LIS reference setsDownload »

Selected References

Current publications on Medicago sativa at PubMed.

Neumann U, Kosier B, Jahnke J, Priefer UB, Al-Halbouni D. Soil factors exhibit greater influence than bacterial inoculation on alfalfa growth and nitrogen fixationFEMS Microbiol Ecol. 2011 May 31.

Li X, Wang X, Wei Y, Brummer EC. Prevalence of segregation distortion in diploid alfalfa and its implications for genetics and breeding applicationsTheor Appl Genet. 2011 May 31.

Li X, Wei Y, Nettleton D, Brummer EC. Comparative gene expression profiles between heterotic and non-heterotic hybrids of tetraploid Medicago sativaBMC Plant Biol. 2009 Aug 13; 9: 107.

Sakiroglu M, Doyle JJ, Brummer EC. The population genetic structure of diploid Medicago sativa L. germplasm. In: Huyghe C,  ed. Sustainable Use of Genetic Diversity in Forage and Turf Breeding, Netherlands - Dordrecht: Springer; 2010, Part 2, 143-148.

Bauchan GR, Hossain MA. Distribution and characterization of heterochromatic DNA in the tetraploid African population alfalfa genome. Crop Sci. 2001; 41: 1921-1926.