Phenotype study of multifoliolate leaf formation in Trifolium alexandrinum L.

Devendra Ram Malaviya, Ajoy Kumar Roy, Pankaj Kaushal, Shalini Pathak, Ruslan Kalendar

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Background. The genus Trifolium is characterized by typical trifoliolate leaves. Alterations in leaf formats from trifoliolate to multifoliolate i.e., individual plants bearing trifoliolate, quadrifoliolate, pentafoliolate or more leaflets were reported previously among many species of the genus. The study is an attempt to develop pure pentafoliolate plants of T. alexandrinum and to understand its genetic control.
Methods. The experimental material consisted of two populations of T. alexandrinum with multifoliolate leaf expression i.e., interspecific hybrid progenies of T. alexandrinum with T. apertum, and T. alexandrinum genotype Penta-1. Penetrance of the multifoliolate trait was observed among multifoliolate and trifoliolate plant progenies. In vitro culture and regeneration of plantlets from the axillary buds from different plant sources was also attempted.
Results. The inheritance among a large number of plant progenies together with in vitro micro-propagation results did not establish a definite pattern. The multifoliolate leaf formation was of chimeric nature i.e., more than one leaf format appearing on individual branches. Reversal to normal trifoliolate from multifoliolate was also quite common. Penetrance and expression of multifoliolate leaf formation was higher among the plants raised from multifoliolate plants. Multifoliolate and pure pentafoliolate plants were observed in the progenies of pure trifoliolate plants and vice-versa. There was an apparent increase in the pentafoliolate leaf formation frequency over the years due to targeted selection. A few progenies of the complete pentafoliolate plants in the first year were true breeding in the second year. Frequency of plantlets with multifoliolate leaf formation was also higher in in vitro axillary bud multiplication when the explant bud was excised from the multifoliolate leaf node.
Conclusion. Number of leaflets being a discrete variable, occurrence of multifoliolate leaves on individual branches, reversal of leaf formats on branches and developing true breeding pentafoliolates were the factors leading to a hypothesis beyond normal Mendelian inheritance. Transposable elements (TEs) involved in leaf development in combination with epigenetics were probably responsible for alterations in the expression of leaflet number. Putative TE’s movement owing to chromosomal rearrangements possibly resulted in homozygous pentafoliolate trait with evolutionary significance. The hypothesis provides a new insight into understanding the genetic control of this trait in T. alexandrinum and may also be useful in other Trifolium species where such observations are reported.
Original languageEnglish
Article numbere10874
Publication statusPublished - Mar 1 2021


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