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Condensed tannin genes pinpointed
AgResearch scientists have uncovered a pivotal gene to increase levels of condensed tannins in white clover leaves.
Condensed tannins are important for improving nitrogen-use efficiency in the rumen and may improve animal health and productivity. This has included increased ovulation rates in sheep, increased liveweight gain, wool growth and milk production. Condensed tannins will reduce the incidence of bloat and the loss of dietary nitrogen to rumen ammonia. There is also some evidence that they may reduce rumen methane. Hence they may also reduce total animal greenhouse gas emissions.
Only two of the known 255 species of the clover genus are known to accumulate high levels of foliar condensed tannins. Over many decades attempts to provide white or red clover plants with increased levels have failed, until now.
Employing techniques to pinpoint appropriate DNA sequences from plants with high levels of condensed tannins, researchers were able to uncover the pivotal gene.
AgResearch will, through its commercialising subsidiary Grasslanz Technology Ltd, be working with partners to develop forage legumes with foliar condensed tannin expression.