DAN00212 - Pulse Breeding Australia (Chickpea)
Chickpea is now a major Australian cropping industry. National crop area expanded to 675,000 ha in 2015. In addition to being a highly profitable cash crop in its own right, chickpea is also an established rotational crop in a range of cropping systems.
The chickpea growing environment in Australia includes a complex mix of biotic (mainly disease) and physical (soil/climate) stresses; some of these problems are unique to Australia. Only a local breeding program has the capability of producing varieties with the necessary adaptation.
Significant progress has been achieved by the Pulse Breeding Australia (PBA) Chickpea national breeding program since its inception in 2006. The first locally adapted varieties with improved resistance to Ascochya blight (AB), the most important production constraint, have now been released, and other releases are imminent. However, further investment is required to progress other 'pipeline' breeding material and to meet emerging production problems and marketing opportunities.
The breeding program will retain a national structure. There will, however, be a concentration in north-eastern Australia where production has consolidated. Most (80%) resources will be allocated to desi types, reflecting the dominance of desis in Australian production; a continuation of the kabuli subprogram is justified by the higher value of kabuli types, their increasing share of world trade and their comparative production advantage in southern Australia.
The project will rely on two conventional breeding methodologies: a (modified) Single Seed Descent (SSD) method will be used for elite crosses, supplemented by a Bulk Breeding method for the remaining crosses. Screening for disease resistance, tolerance to biotic stresses and seed quality will follow the protocols established in the preceding project, and yield evaluation will be conducted at a network of sites strategically chosen to best represent the Australian chickpea environment and complement NVT sites.
Project outputs will be new varieties with increased yield potential and improved seed quality. The project will concentrate on a restricted set of breeding objectives: resistance to disease (AB, Phytophthora root rot (PRR); appropriate phenology (allied to chilling tolerance); salt tolerance; improved harvestability; and improved seed quality. The mix of features incorporated into new varieties will reflect the regional importance of the key production constraints. An increased breeding effort on chilling tolerance will be made through the early sowing and tagging of F3 populations. A site within each region will also be sown early within the optimal sowing window to identify breeding lines with improved chilling tolerance.
The program will build on recent efforts to incorporate novel herbicide tolerance identified in DAS00107 within PBA Chickpea. An increased investment in selection and validation of novel herbicide tolerance by the South Australian Research and Development Institute (SARDI) group will see this develop into a significant component of the PBA Chickpea program. It is envisaged that a herbicide tolerant chickpea variety would have a major impact on the farming system ‘fit’ of chickpeas in north, south and western GRDC regions. Germplasm will be identified in DAS00107, however if mutation ‘events’ are not found within this project, access to international germplasm and the appropriated freedom to operate will be investigated (e.g. Canada).
The PBA Chickpea program will include a junior chickpea breeding position at Tamworth. This role will develop skills and capacity of a junior breeder in the area of variety development. The project will also link with a GRDC and NSW Department of Primary Industries funded capacity building position (DAN0200) in Chickpea Genetics. This role will focus on implementing traits from the germplasm enhancement programs (funded from PBA Chickpea discretionary budget). This position will build capacity and strengthen collaborations between chickpea breeding and pre-breeding projects. Germplasm with new traits and screening methodologies from germplasm enhancement projects and new technologies (e.g. molecular markers, speed breeding) will be adopted into PBA Chickpea once their effectiveness has been demonstrated.
There will be two project outcomes:
- directly, a more secure and profitable chickpea industry underpinned by higher, more stable yielding and better quality varieties, and
- indirectly, increased profitability of other (mainly cereal) crops grown in rotation with chickpea resulting from nitrogen fixation and a reduction in cereal disease inoculum.