Award for peanut researcher

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Postgraduate research into a quality issue affecting peanuts on the Atherton Tableland in Queensland has won GRDC-supported researcher Kylie Wenham the University of Queensland's (UQ) Bryan Medal.

The medal is in honour of Dr Wilf Bryan, who had a notable career with CSIRO's Division of Tropical Agronomy before retiring in 1972.

Man and woman shake hands during award ceremony

Kylie Wenham receiving her award from Ag Institute Australia Queensland Division president David Lloyd.

Ms Wenham took on the research project for the Peanut Company of Australia after graduating from UQ with a Bachelor of Applied Science in mid-2011. She has been investigating a group of soil-borne bacteria, actinomycetes, suspected of creating volatile compounds that give rise to ‘off’ flavours in stored peanuts.

The problem, which can result in significant losses, was first identified in 2008. She conducted a detailed scientific analysis of atmospheric conditions over several months in bulk storage bins at Tolga and tested soils from several peanut growing sites around the Tablelands.

Ms Wenham has developed a series of recommendations to avoid crop downgrading. These range from minimising dirt delivered with peanuts, modifying controlled atmosphere storage and early shelling to reduce time in storage. “There is still a lot of work to be done, including a DNA evaluation of the bacteria to learn more about it,” Ms Wenham says.

She will return to the UQ Gatton campus in 2013 to start a PhD on soil-borne diseases.

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GRDC Project Code PCA00002

Region National, North