Perennial wheat is a dual-purpose crop serving as both forage and grain. The perennial habit has many advantages including a lower frequency of crop establishment which confers both economic and sustainability benefits over conventional annual wheat. Further advantages include reduced soil erosion and fewer problems with dryland waterlogging, salinity and nutrient leaching and a lower rate of acidification. Recent work in Australia, using overseas perennial wheat germplasm, has identified lines which have survived into the second year. However, to perenniate these lines required irrigation over the summer and even under these conditions only produced low grain yields. To assist with perennial wheat development, we need to strengthen the perennial habit and regrowth capability so as to increase subsequent grain and forage yields. This progress requires research into the plant?s response to drought and heat particularly after the first reproductive cycle. To enhance our understanding of the physiology of the perennial grain plant the proposed research, which will have both glasshouse and field components, will address aspects of crop morphology, biochemistry and genetics as it strives to enhance the perenniality of this new crop within the south-east Australian wheatbelt.
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