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Researchers Fortify Queen of the Forages with Disease Defense

United States English

Alfalfa is often called the "Queen of the Forages" due to its high yield, feed quality for ruminant animals, nitrogen fixation and pollinator habitat among other environmental services. But this royal member of the legume family is no match against the host of microbes that cause the disease complex known as "crown rot."

Chemical controls aren't effective against crown rot, and there are no genetically resistant alfalfa varieties available to farmers. Now, a team of Agricultural Research Service (ARS), University of Minnesota (UM) and Donald Danforth Plant Science Center (DDPSC) scientists is exploring a "surrogate" defense—one borrowed from a close relative of the $8 billion legume crop.