Norway wheat disease collaboration

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Image of George Morris and Chris McMullen

DAFWA technical officers George Morris (left) and Chris McMullan evaluate 2016 SNB trials at Northam,
with wheat lines containing genes for resistance from Australia and the US.

PHOTO: DAFWA

The Department of Agriculture and Food, WA (DAFWA), has set up a reciprocal exchange of wheat germplasm with Norway to overcome the fungal disease Stagonospora nodorum blotch (SNB).

In WA, SNB costs growers an estimated $108 million each year due to early leaf death and reduced grain fill, particularly in high-rainfall areas and wet seasons.

DAFWA will exchange SNB-resistant material with the University of Life Sciences in Norway, where SNB is the second-most-damaging wheat disease.

Senior DAFWA researcher Dr Michael Francki says the Norwegian material would be used to contribute to research to identify and track gene combinations that produce resistance to SNB.

“We have already been able to identify several genes that can be combined to create resistance to SNB using germplasm from across Australia and the US with DNA marker analysis provided by the State Agricultural Biotechnology Centre at Murdoch University,” he says.

“The addition of US germplasm from Purdue University has already helped us to identify three different genes to improve resistance, and tests showed the resistance stood up well in different environments in WA and the US.

Image of wheat infected with blotch disease

Wheat infected with Stagonospora nodorum blotch.

“We now wish to investigate a similar concept and evaluate Norwegian germplasm to identify potential new genes to combine with existing genes from Australia and US sources, which could be used to further improve SNB resistance in wheat varieties.”

The Norwegian germplasm will be evaluated for resistance in WA after seed is released from quarantine in 2017.

The earlier genes from the US and Australian SNB-resistant material have already been fast tracked into the commercial wheat breeding sector, as part of the GRDC-supported Effective Genetic Control of SNB project.

If the Norwegian material proves successful, it will help provide additional SNB resistance in new wheat-breeding germplasm.

Dr Francki says mutually beneficial international collaboration is essential to continually improve disease resistance and boost yields.

“The industry needs access to new genes to overcome disease constraints,” he says.

“It is important to bring the benefits of international research efforts evaluating genes in different environments to improve the performance of the Australian lines.” 

More information:

Dr Michael Francki,

08 9360 7575;

Department of Agriculture and Food, WA

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GRDC Project Code DAW00248

Region West