Wheat varieties with improved resistance and tolerance to crown rot disease are edging closer to commercial reality following significant industry investment in pre-breeding research.
The GRDC has been investing in pre-breeding programs at the University of Sydney’s Plant Breeding Institute (PBI) at Narrabri for more than five years, enabling researchers to assess the performance of individual breeding lines under crown rot conditions.
PBI researcher Dr Philip Davies says a phase of pre-breeding research has recently been completed that will allow germplasm with enhanced crown rot tolerance and resistance to be delivered to commercial breeding companies.
“This [pre-breeding] is where we look for sources of resistance in either wild relatives of wheat, landraces from overseas or bringing the resistance in from overseas cultivars, and then make them more agronomically adaptable to the region,” he says. “At the same time, the material we have already made available to breeding companies is making its way through the breeding cycle and will hopefully make it into growers’ paddocks in the next seven or eight years.”
Crown rot costs northern Australian growers about $80 million each year.
Dr Philip Davies,
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