Submitted to: Proceedings of the US Dairy Forage Research Center Information Conference
Publication Type: Proceedings
Publication Acceptance Date: September 16, 1996
Publication Date: N/A
Technical Abstract: From the earliest days of gathering and planting seeds. man has sought to adapt plants to fulfill his needs. Today we are opening more doors and revealing the secrets that will enhance the potential use of plants. Nevertheless, we are far from a complete understanding of the relationships between structure and function during plant development. A challenge is to alter plants to maximize desirable traits and minimize undesirable ones. Attributes that are desirable in one situation may be undesirable in another depending upon the ultimate functional use of the plant. How do we alter plants to fit our needs without sacrificing the good qualities already expressed by a given forage? It is critical to understand the molecular and biochemical mechanisms that underlie a given function, phenotype, or process expressed by the plant. This paper describes how basic biochemical and chemical information can lead to potential strategies sfor improving forages. In many cases, once we understand the chemistry behind a given observation, we also know a lot about the biochemistry that brought it into being. A progression is described from basic molecular/biochemical studies to the application of this information to improve forages. The first project deals with the characterization of wall pectins and their use to select forages for increased digestibility. The second project deals with limiting protein degradation during forage ensiling.