UWA00175 - An integrated platform for rapid genetic gain in pulse crops

Project Summary

Project Start Date
1 July 2016
Project End Date
30 June 2019
Supervisor Name
Janine Croser
University of Western Australia

Pulse genetic improvement has historically been constrained by the long lifecycle of the plant. In breeding, this translates as slow genetic gain. In conventional breeding systems, one to three generations can be obtained per year, with six required for fixation of favourable genes. GRDC funded research (UWA00140, UWA00159) has resulted in breakthrough technology to accelerate the traditional Single Seed Descent (SSD) system in the four major pulses (chickpea, lentil, field pea and lupin). Accelerated SSD (aSSD) enables turnover of six to eight generations per year, more than halving the current fastest route to gene fixation (homozygosity) in these species.

Within UWA00159, we have also undertaken research toward the goal of developing an integrated breeding platform, which incorporates aSSD with hydroponic screening to discriminate breeding material with tolerance to salinity, aluminium or boron toxicity. We have modified the hydroponic screens so that they can be applied to immature seed, with robust germination and recovery of tolerant plants to flower and set seed with little time penalty within our accelerated generation turnover system.

The objectives of this project are;

  1. To help address the loss of $74 million per annum in pulse yield by developing biotic screening methodologies for two of the major pulse pathogens -- Ascochyta and Botrytis - that can be applied within the aSSD platform.
  2. To assist in the rapid integration of new herbicide tolerance traits by developing and applying herbicide selection within the aSSD platform.
  3. To deliver the resulting comprehensive pulse aSSD platform with capacity for abiotic/ biotic and herbicide screening to the Pulse Breeding Australia (PBA) pulse improvement community.

Structure of the investment:

Component 1 will integrate the aSSD technology into PBA pulse breeding activities, giving Australia a unique comparative advantage in pulse breeding.

Component 2 will focus on the further enhancement of the platform for pulse improvement. This will be achieved by incorporation of physical or molecular screening for biotic and abiotic production constraints within the aSSD system.

The aSSD technology will enable breeding programs to develop fixed F6 material in a single year. In the case of metribuzin tolerance in lentil, incorporating this trait up to two years faster is estimated to improve on farm profits by $6 million. If we consider $6 million per trait as a benchmark value of delivering specific traits more rapidly and further assume one trait per species will be rapidly integrated using aSSD within this project, then this investment has the potential to increase on-farm profits by c. $18 million.

Published Date
14 February 2018

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