Victorian grain growers are set to benefit from a new strain of wheat which is resistant to rust diseases and tolerant to pre-harvest sprouting.
It’s one of the first products developed at the University of Queensland using a new breeding strategy which slashes the time needed to introduce new genes into an existing crop variety from over 10 years to just two-and-a-half years.
They’re now working with local Ballarat grower-owned seed company GrainSearch, and these elite wheat lines are currently being grown in field trials in Victoria and New South Wales.
“Pending the performance of the wheat lines, we reckon that this new wheat variety with high yield potential, resistance to stripe rust and pre-harvest sprouting tolerance could be available to Victorian growers in less than four years,” says Dr Lee Hickey, from the University of Queensland.
In collaboration with his PhD supervisor Dr Mark Dieters, the research duo used a novel approach to transfer multiple genes for both resistance to stripe rust and grain dormancy into the Australian wheat cultivar H45.
“We developed 84 wheat lines, each 90 to 95 percent genetically similar to the H45 variety, but with multiple genes for resistance to rust and pre-harvest sprouting,” says Lee.
“Currently, there are no wheat varieties available to Australian growers that offer adequate protection against pre-harvest sprouting, so this would be a first” says Mark.
“The population also displays useful variation in physiological characteristics, including days to flowering, maturity, spike length, leaf width, seedling vigour, and grain size. These characters will be important for determining which line becomes the new wheat variety.”
The team at the University of Queensland have used the same techniques to rapidly produce disease resistant strains of barley. Lee will be presenting this work at the Australian Barley Technical Symposium held this week in Melbourne.
They’re working with breeding companies and seed companies across Australia and overseas to bring results to farmers sooner than ever before.
About the wheat strain H45:
Released in the 1990s, H45 was a successful wheat variety with fast maturity and high yield potential adopted by growers in Victoria and NSW. It has since been abandoned by most growers because it is susceptible to the current strains of stripe rust present along the east coast of Australia.
As with all wheat varieties in Australia, H45 also lacks adequate grain dormancy to protect against pre-harvest sprouting, i.e. where germination of grain in the spike that occurs in response to rainfall at crop maturity, resulting in grain crops being downgraded resulting in less money for growers.
Initially formed in 2002 by a small group of innovative grain growers, GrainSearch has grown to be the largest grower owned seed company in Australia, with more than 200 grower-based shareholders.
Their primary objective is to seek out, through the latest research and development techniques, new varieties of seed that significantly improve the productivity of shareholders, farming businesses and agricultural enterprises.
More at: http://grainsearch.net.au/
For interviews and further information:
- Tamzin Byrne, Science in Public, 0432 974 400, firstname.lastname@example.org