Medicago Truncatula
A model legume series

Medicago TruncatulaMedicago truncatula, commonly known as barrel medic, is a model legume species that is widely used in plant biology research.

Genetic Simplicity

M. truncatula has a relatively small genome compared to other legume species, making it easier to study and manipulate at the genetic level. Its genome has been sequenced, providing a resource for gene identification and comparative genomics. Magnitude’s seed source for this mission is from the Australian Pastures Genebank and comes with a phytosanitary certification of distribution. These reference seeds are known as Jemalong A17.

Rapid Life Cycle

This plant has a short life cycle, allowing researchers to conduct experiments in a more time-efficient manner. It’s easier to observe developmental stages, test genetic modifications, and conduct long-term studies on plants that grow more quickly.


As with our previous mission, ExoLab-10, another reason for studying Medicago truncatula is its ability to form symbiotic relationships with nitrogen-fixing bacteria. This is a feature it shares with other legumes, and understanding this process has important implications for agriculture, as it helps to improve soil fertility and reduce the need for synthetic fertilizers. While participants may investigate this phenomena, the ExoLab-11 mission will focus specifically on optimal growth.

Disease Resistance

The plant is also useful for studying plant-microbe interactions, including disease resistance. This can lead to the development of plants that are more resilient against pathogens, which is an ongoing challenge in sustainable agriculture.

Genetic Tools and Resources

A range of genetic resources and tools are available for Medicago truncatula, including well-characterized mutant collections, numerous genetic markers, and techniques for transformation. This makes it easier to conduct research on this plant as opposed to other less well-characterized species. We look forward to the post-flight research provided by collaborative universities and research centers such as the Lawrence Berkeley National Lab, and Joint Genome Institute.

Relevance to Agriculture

Medicago truncatula is an ancient ancestor of alfalfa (lucerne, purple medic), a commercially important forage crop. Research on M. truncatula can therefore often be translated into practical applications for improving crops that are important for agriculture.

Other Scientific Applications

The plant is also used in studies of root architecture, plant stress responses, and other fundamental aspects of plant biology that are broadly applicable to other plant species.

Collaborative Research

Because it is a model organism, there is a large community of researchers studying M. truncatula. This fosters collaboration and speeds up scientific discoveries related to this plant.

Medicago truncatula serves as an important model system in plant biology, helping researchers to uncover fundamental principles that apply not only to legumes but also to other plants.

Research Ecotype

The ecotype of Medicago truncatula used on ExoLab-11 is Jemalong A17. It is widely used as a reference line in scientific research. M. truncatula has multiple ecotypes, each with distinct characteristics, but Jemalong A17 has been the most extensively characterized and is commonly used as a model for genetic and molecular studies.

Why has Jemalong A17 been selected?

The genetics and physiology of Jemalong A17 are very well-studied, making it a reliable reference point for comparative analyses with other strains or species. It has been sequenced and annotated, providing a wealth of genomic data that facilitates various types of molecular and genetic research. Like other strains of M. truncatula, Jemalong A17 forms symbiotic relationships with nitrogen-fixing bacteria.

As a reference line, Jemalong A17 offers a level of genetic and phenotypic uniformity that is advantageous for controlled scientific experiments. It serves as a standard background for generating mutants or for other genetic modifications. Because it’s commonly used, there is a broad scientific community familiar with this particular strain, and a wealth of literature and data are available for it.

Our source for these research grade seeds is from the Australian Pastures Genebank.

A copy of the Phytosanitary Certificate.

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Image: Flowering Medicago truncatula. D. Jayaraman, S. Rajasekar / Ane lab

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