DAQ00187 - National Barley Foliar Pathogen Variety Improvement Program (NBFPVIP)

Project Summary

Project Start Date
30 June 2013
Project End Date
30 June 2018
Supervisor Name
Gregory Platz
Queensland Department of Agriculture , Fisheries a
National, South, North, West

Foliar diseases of barley in Australia and their control by the application of fungicides are estimated to cost the industry more than $35 million annually. As barley is a relatively low-return crop, the most economical means of controlling these diseases is through genetic resistance which can deliver low-cost, environmentally-friendly protection for the life of the crop.

While resistance may be promoted as the panacea of disease control, the longevity of any given resistance is threatened by changes in pathogen that can overcome that resistance. The challenge therefore is to develop durable or long-lasting resistances that will provide many years of protection from diseases that threaten barley crops. As barley breeding programs move to a national focus, this can be achieved only by a nationally-coordinated, strategic approach to the problem.

Effective disease-resistance breeding demands knowledge of the virulences in the pathogen populations, selection of superior resistances to these virulences and incorporation of these resistances into adapted material using the most efficient methods available. The diseases that will be targeted in this project are net form net blotch (NFNB), spot form net blotch (SFNB), spot blotch (SB), scald, powdery mildew (PM) and barley yellow dwarf virus (BYDV). Resistances are available to each disease but they act independently; so resistance to one disease does not imply resistance to other diseases.


The ultimate aim of the project will be to develop germplasm with resistances to multiple diseases in lines that are attractive to breeding programs. It is intended that breeding entities will be offered not only good disease-resistant material but also tools that will enable them to efficiently incorporate these resistances into their own elite material. Previous investments by GRDC (DAQ00133, DAQ00178, DAS00096) have provided knowledge of the virulences that currently exist across Australia. However, as these are in a constant state of change it is necessary to monitor each of the diseases to detect new or emerging virulences that may threaten the resistances being used. This too will be conducted in a nationally-coordinated manner, with individual agencies charged with the responsibility of monitoring the virulences of individual diseases across the continent.

In a similar fashion, individual agencies will lead the research into a particular disease with other collaborating agencies providing support. There are 12 agencies involved in this project. The lead agencies for the respective diseases are as follows:

  • NFNB - Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry Queensland (DAFFQ)
  • SFNB - Department of Environment and Primary Industries Victoria (DEPI)
  • SB - DAFFQ
  • Scald - South Australian Research and Development Institute (SARDI)
  • PM - Curtin University
  • BYDV - Tasmanian Institute of Agriculture (TIA).

The Australian National University (ANU) will investigate the contribution of wild grass populations to the diversity of virulences in NFNB and scald, while the University of Southern Queensland (USQ) will determine the importance of natural crossing between different strains of net blotch in generating new or different virulences.

Workers at the University of Adelaide (UA) will research the role of phytotoxins produced by NFNB in disease development with a view to using these toxins to screen for resistance to the disease.

The Department of Agriculture and Food Western Australia (DAFWA) and NSW Department of Primary Industries (NSW DPI) will provide support for various components of the project. The University of Western Australia (UWA) will have a small but important role in generating germplasm with resistance to scald.

Resistances to the target diseases already exist in cultivated barleys. Some are effective while others have been defeated by the diseases and are no longer useful. In a quest to stay ahead of the diseases, the project will look for new resistances. These may be found in cultivated barleys from overseas, in primitive land races or even in alternative species of the barley genus. Once new or superior sources of resistances are identified, work will be done to understand how these resistances function and are inherited. This will include use of up-to-date molecular techniques. Ultimately, resistances will be crossed into adapted varieties to provide breeders with sources of resistance that are useful to them.

The strength of this project lies in its national focus. All the diseases being targeted are spread by air movement and are therefore not limited by State borders or geographic regions.

Lines that demonstrate superior resistance to any one of the targeted diseases will be included in screening for resistance to other diseases across Australia. This will result in the identification of the best resistances for the nominated disease and determine the value of lines in providing resistance to multiple diseases.

With the knowledge generated from this project, germplasm with effective resistance to the major foliar diseases of barley will be generated and passed on to breeding companies for use in developing varieties with durable resistance to multiple diseases.


Published Date
14 January 2016

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