Crop WUE award

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CSIRO’s Dr Richard Richards and Professor Graham Farquhar, from the Australian National University (ANU), have been awarded the UK-based Rank Prize for their development of methods that identify crops with superior water use efficiency (WUE). The award relates to their discovery in the 1980s when they were able to correlate WUE in wheat crops to the ratio of carbon isotopes in the leaf.

Today Dr Richards is a leading researcher at CSIRO Plant Industries, working on the continuing development of dual-purpose wheats for high-rainfall zones. Professor Farquhar is a chief investigator in the ANU-administered Australian Research Centre of Excellence for Translational Photosynthesis.

Dr Richards said he was delighted to share the international prize with someone he has known since secondary school. “It demonstrates the importance of forming and nurturing strong collaborations between fundamental and applied research to benefit society,” he said.

“The prize also demonstrates Australia’s leadership in plant science, and it is critical Australia maintains a significant research investment in agricultural sciences because food security and depleted water availability for agriculture are two of the most important issues we face globally.” 

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