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The development of lucerne germplasm tolerant of acidic soil conditions has long been a research objective of international significance. Many initiatives have previously failed to produce genotypes with adequate improvement in tolerance to be deemed economically viable and as a consequence, still no cultivar of lucerne exists that has improved adaptation to acidic soils. An Australian research program spanning the previous decade sought to redress this issue by developing lucerne genotypes with significantly enhanced tolerance to aluminium (Al) toxicity. Using recurrent selection in hydroponic solution culture, populations selected comprised individuals which displayed enhanced seedling root growth following a pulse of Al toxic solution (Scott et al. 2008). A subsequent pot experiment showed that these populations exhibited up to 40% increase in seedling root length when grown in an acidic soil with high Al concentration, though there was a differential response observed between the elite populations (Hayes et al. 2011). The current study tested the hypothesis that lucerne establishment in the field would be higher in populations selected in high Al solution culture when grown in an acidic soil environment.

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Lucerne for Acid Soils: A Field Evaluation of Early Generation Aluminium Tolerant Genotypes

The development of lucerne germplasm tolerant of acidic soil conditions has long been a research objective of international significance. Many initiatives have previously failed to produce genotypes with adequate improvement in tolerance to be deemed economically viable and as a consequence, still no cultivar of lucerne exists that has improved adaptation to acidic soils. An Australian research program spanning the previous decade sought to redress this issue by developing lucerne genotypes with significantly enhanced tolerance to aluminium (Al) toxicity. Using recurrent selection in hydroponic solution culture, populations selected comprised individuals which displayed enhanced seedling root growth following a pulse of Al toxic solution (Scott et al. 2008). A subsequent pot experiment showed that these populations exhibited up to 40% increase in seedling root length when grown in an acidic soil with high Al concentration, though there was a differential response observed between the elite populations (Hayes et al. 2011). The current study tested the hypothesis that lucerne establishment in the field would be higher in populations selected in high Al solution culture when grown in an acidic soil environment.