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Sections > Short Communication

Published in Issue No. 122, page 44 to 45 - (5341) characters

Collecting wild forage species in the northeastern region of Bulgaria

Docho Shamov  Yana Guteva  Peter Tomov  Michio Kanbe  Mitsuru Gau  Introduction

Bulgaria is rich in plant genetic resources of cultivated crops and their wild relatives (Jordanov 1963; Stoyanov and Kitanov 1967; Jordanov 1976). A large number of wild populations of forage species, which may contain useful genetic resources, can be found in pastures and meadows. Previous reports (Petrova and Kozuharov 1982a, 1982b) indicate that 67 of the 237 Trifolium species are to be found in Bulgaria. The study of the ecology and biology of meadow and pasture plant species opens up opportunities to breed the best specimens for use as cultivated fodder crops now and in the future (Turkington 1975; Ellis Davies 1984; Richan 1988).

The aim of this expedition was to gather seed material from wild species, mainly forage grasses and legumes, in a region that is menaced by genetic erosion as a result of the development of agriculture and industrialization. In the past, much of the grasslands were ploughed up for the cultivation of cereals and at present, overgrazing and/or the presence of tourists are destroying poorer grasslands.



Collecting area and germplasm

Northeastern Bulgaria (Fig. 1) was the area chosen for the collecting mission, which took place from 2-14 July, 1995. Collecting took place in three of the eight phytogeographic regions of Bulgaria (Stoyanov 1936): the Danube plain, Dobrudja and the Black Sea coast. Environmental data for the collecting regions are given in Table 1. Annual average temperatures are 10.5-12.0°C and annual rainfall ranges from 481 mm in Varna to 666 mm in Targovishte. The Danube plain region has a continental climate (-33.7 + 36.2°C), the Black Sea coast has a continental Mediterranean climate (-23.5 + 33.0°C) (Velev 1990) and the area between the two zones has a transitional climate. The elevation ranges from 10 m at Svishtov on the Danube to 700 m at Targovishte.

Collecting was done in natural habitats including valleys, pastures, mountain slopes and wasteland; samples were gathered mostly on the roadside of the traversed route. A total of 132 seed samples, belonging to 52 different species, were collected from 35 sites (Table 2). The level of ripeness varied within species and sites. Collecting of perennial species, such as Medicago and Trifolium, was limited as it was a little early in the year for collecting. The samples gathered were found in the drier areas of the Danube plain region and near the coast. Several grass species (Dactylis, Festuca, Lolium, etc.) were collected in meadows, pastures and on riverbanks. Although samples of Sorghum halepense were found in Novacene, 30 km north of Pleven and in Belene near the Danube river the seeds did not mature.

As it was a little late for collecting Avena, we collected seeds from the ground mainly in the region of Pleven (Vabel, Koilovtzy, Obnova) and 10 km east of Targovishte. Annual legumes were easily collected because their seeds had already matured and dried. In some cases it was impossible to find live plants in the sward and seed collecting was the only sampling option. Medicago minima, M. orbicularis, M. polymorpha, T. campestre, T. echinatum, T. leucantum and T. angustifolium were more widespread, especially in the coastal areas (Albena, Kaliakra, Rusalka and 10 km south of Obzor).



Conclusion

Interesting forage plant genetic resources are to be found in the investigated region. Much of the germplasm collected during the expedition will be used as initial breeding material in further improvement programmes in Japan. The annual medics (Medicago spp.) and clovers (Trifolium spp.) will be used to introduce new pasture species in the dry areas of Bulgaria. The collected ecotypes are kept in the National genebank at IPGR, Sadovo for short-term storage.



Acknowledgements

This expedition was funded by the Government of Japan and organized in cooperation with the Forage Institute, Bulgaria and Hokkaido National Agricultural Experiment Station, Japan. We would like to thank all the farmers we met during the mission for the fruitful discussions held and the information given.



References

Ellis Davies, W. 1984. A plan of action for forage genetic resources. International Board for Plant Genetic Resources, Rome, Italy.

Jordanov, D. 1963 (v. 1), 1976 (v. 6). Flora of the People’s Republic of Bulgaria. [in Bulgarian]).

Petrova, A.V and S.I. Kozuharov. 1982a. Cytotaxonomic study of genus Trifolium L. in Bulgaria. I. Phytology 19:3-23.

Petrova, A.V. and S.I. Kozuharov. 1982b. Cytotaxonomic study of genus Trifolium L. in Bulgaria. II. Phytology 20:20-40.

Richan, J.R. 1988. A herbarium based ecogeographic survey of Medicago species in the Mediterranean and adjacent arid-semiarid areas. Internal report IBPGR, Rome, Italy.

Stoyanov, N. 1936. Le charactere phytogeographique de la Bulgarie. Pp. 52-58 in IV Congress des geogr. et etnogr. slaves. Sofia, Bulgaria.

Stoyanov, N. and B. Kitanov. 1967. Flora Bulgarica. [in Bulgarian].

Turkington, R. 1975. Relationships between neighbours among species of permanent grassland (especially Trifolium repens L.). PhD thesis. University College of North Wales, Bangor, UK.

Velev, St., 1990. The climate of Bulgaria. [in Bulgarian]. Sofia, Bulgaria.

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