The objective of this study was to characterize and classify the genetic diversity among alfalfa (Medicago sativa L.) ecotypes collected from the cold regions of Iran, based on some agro-morphological traits. Twenty one alfalfa ecotypes were collected and planted in a Randomized Complete Blocks Design (RCBD) with three replications in April 1998 at Nyshabour Agricultural and Natural Resource Research Station, Khorasan Razavi, Iran. Twenty three above ground agro-morphological characters were recorded during the growing seasons of 1999-2001. The variables were analyzed by descriptive statistics and multivariate statistical procedures to discriminate differences among genotypes and determine groups based on their similarities. Factor analysis was performed for all agro-morphological traits and reduced them down to 6 common factors which accounted for 80.45% of total variations among the genotypes studied. The twenty one ecotypes were classified in to 4 clusters by cluster analysis. Each group had at least one trait which made it different from the other groups (group 1: No. of pods per raceme and 100-seed weight; group 2: forage yield, dry matter yield, regrowth rate and stem dry matter yield; group 3: leaf-stem ratio, leaf dry matter yield and group 4: seed yield). These results suggest the presence of variation among alfalfa ecotypes available in cold regions in Iran, which could be considered for further breeding strategies and studies.
M. Basafa and M. Taherian, 2009. A Study of Agronomic and Morphological Variations in Certain Alfalfa (Medicago sativa L.) Ecotypes of the Cold Region of Iran. Asian Journal of Plant Sciences, 8: 293-300.