Crop disease researchers Eureka finalists

Image of Professor Richard Oliver from Curtin University's Centre for Crop and Disease Management (CCDM).

A Curtin University research team is a 2014 Australian Museum Eureka Prizes finalist, recognising its research into diseases of wheat which will contribute to multi-million dollar savings to Australian agriculture.

The team from the Centre for Crop and Disease Management (CCDM), led by Professor Richard Oliver, is a finalist in the Department of Agriculture Landcare Eureka Prize for Sustainable Agriculture.

Presented annually, the Australian Museum Eureka Prizes are the ‘Oscars’ of Australian science, rewarding excellence in the fields of research and innovation, leadership, science communication and journalism and school science.

The 2014 winners will be announced in Sydney on September 10.

With funding support from the Grains Research and Development Corporation (GRDC), the CCDM team developed a novel test that is helping wheat breeders combat the damaging diseases yellow spot and septoria nodorum blotch.

Professor Oliver said one of the most important challenges facing agriculture was improving resistance to the army of diseases that threaten crops.

“Yellow spot and septoria nodorum blotch cause combined losses of more than $300 million in Australia,” he said.

“Under the test, which has been enthusiastically adopted by wheat breeders, leaves are tested with fungal proteins and within a few days, disease-prone lines can be easily identified and removed from the variety selection process.

“The technology has substantially reduced the time and effort required for screening for disease resistance, allowing breeders to focus their efforts on other targets such as drought or frost resistance, or improved yield.

“It is already impacting the Australian wheat industry, though improved productivity, and is expected to bring multi-million dollar savings to the industry in the future.”

The research team includes Professor Oliver, Caroline Moffat, Kar-Chun Tan, Kasia Clarke and Huyen Phan.

The $100 million CCDM is a bilateral research agreement between the GRDC and Curtin University.

ENDS

Caption: A team led by Crop and Disease Management (CCDM) director, Professor Richard Oliver is a 2014 Eureka Prizes finalist.

Contact Details

For Interviews

Richard Oliver, CCDM
0401 103 094
richard.oliver@curtin.edu.au

Caroline Moffat, CCDM
08 9266 9186
caroline.moffat@curtin.edu.au

Contact

Natalie Lee, Cox Inall Communications
08 9864 2034, 0427 189 827
nataliel@coxinall.com.au

GRDC Project Code CUR00023

Region West