Grains Research and Development

Date: 01.09.2001

How do they do it?

(l-r) Members of the GRDC's Breeding Technology Program: program leader Alan Umbers (Southern Region), Ray Hare (Northern Region), Kadambot Siddique (Western Region) and Ross Gilmour (GRDC Program Manager).

Have you ever wondered how our plant breeders keep up the seemingly endless flow of new, higher-yielding disease-resistant crop varieties on which many farmers depend?

Part of the answer is that we have very clever and skilled plant breeders. But for their work to realise its full potential, the breeders need access to the best tools of trade-and this is what the breeding technology program is about.

The program aims to ensure that plant breeders are kept abreast of the latest technology, both international and home-grown. It invests in biotechnology, statistical support of plant-breeding programs and plant physiology.

Biotechnology investments include development of technology in genomics, genetic engineering and cell culture for use in plant-breeding programs.

The program has a major role coordinating research nationally, particularly in areas such as transformation technology (genetic engineering), and makes significant investments in 'blue sky' research in areas that are crucial to the industry's future. Statistical support gives plant-breeding programs an edge with world-class analysis of complex data banks.

Lacking a native staple in our diet, we depend on plant genes from overseas and we need continued access to those genes to preserve and improve our grain varieties. The genetic resource centres program manages the GRDC's investment in Australia's collections of these overseas plant genetic resources.