ANU00027 - Improving yield by optimising energy use efficiency

Project Summary

Project Start Date
1 January 2016
Project End Date
31 December 2018
Supervisor Name
Barry Pogson
Australian National University

Globally, wheat is one of the most important staple crops, providing a fifth of the daily calories in human diets. Agriculture Ministers of the G20 nations have established the International Wheat Yield Partnership (IWYP) to address future food security needs based on the recommendation from the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations. The primary Australian partner of IWYP is the Grains Research and Development Corporation (GRDC). The GRDC investment in this project to improve yield by optimising energy use efficiency project is being leveraged against substantive in kind and cash investments from the partners, Australian National University, University of Western Australia, University of Adelaide, The International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center (CIMMYT), Photon Systems Instruments and Astec-Global Ltd. More broadly, the GRDC investment is value-added by the $US20 Million wheat yield program being administered by IWYP. The integration of this project with that of the broader IWYP program and the unique expertise, resources and germplasm of all partners provides a unique opportunity to bring scale and focus to improving wheat yield potential.

As a contribution to this unique international initiative to coordinate worldwide wheat research efforts, this project looks to exploit the energy systems of wheat plants in an attempt to improve their yield through a novel approach that combines cutting edge molecular techniques with traditional breeding to raise the genetic yield potential of wheat to address global food security.

This project will combine genetics, gene expression and growth studies with the high throughput analysis of photosynthesis and respiration in order to screen elite wheat germplasm from field trials in Australia and Mexico to identify new opportunities for wheat improvement through selective breeding for energy use efficiency. More than 85% of the energy captured by plants is used in cell activities, some futile, meaning that only a very small amount of plant energy is realised as yield; therefore improving the ways in which energy is used and distributed within wheat plants has the potential to significantly increase their growth and crop yield.

Cutting-edge field measurements will be made using technologies including drones, robotics and Global Positioning Systems. This newly developed machinery will ensure efficient field to lab integration to help identify the best traits in different wheat varieties. Through further screening and analysis of these possible elite varieties, we will identify genetic lines to enable breeding of high-yielding varieties with: efficient, optimised levels of respiration and photosynthesis, sugars, organic and amino acids for increased growth and biomass with the potential for increased grain yield.

Published Date
12 October 2016

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