Genetic diversity and distance among Iranian and European alfalfa (Medicago sativa L.) genotypes


1 Maize and Forage crops Research Department, Seed and Plant Improvement Institute (SPII)

2 Agriculture Research Centre, Islamic Azad University, Karaj Branch, Iran.

3 Division of Organic Farming, Department of Sustainable Agricultural Systems, University of Natural Resources and Applied Life Sciences (BOKU), Vienna, Austria.

4 Seed and Plant Improvement Institute, Karaj, Iran.


Alfalfa is the best known fodder crop with high ability of biological nitrogen fixation and drought tolerance in dry, Pannonian region of east Austria. Different morphological and physiological characteristics of 18 alfalfa genotypes from different geographical origins, 8 Iranian ecotypes and 10 European cultivars were evaluated under irrigated and rainfed conditions during 2006-08 cropping seasons. The objectives of this study were to measure genetic distance and divergence among genotypes and to classify them based on morphological and physiological characters. Cluster analysis differentiated Iranian ecotypes and European cultivars from each other under irrigated condition, and when data averaged across two environments (irrigated and rainfed). However, under rainfed conditions small changes occurred in grouping of genotypes due mainly to differential responses of the genotypes to rainfed condition. Considerable genetic distance observed between Iranian and European genotypes. Different crossing programs are recommended between Iranian and European genotypes to develop new alfalfa cultivars.