Mexican wave may swamp soil nasties

Photo of julie Nicol

Genetic material from overseas is helping an Australian scientist develop a new wheat line that can resist both root lesion nematode (RLN) and cereal cyst nematode (CCN).

Julie Nicol is working to develop the resistant line at the world's premier wheat and maize breeding institution, CIMMYT in Mexico. Its immense input into Australian wheats was described in a recent issue of Ground Cover. Dr Nicol, a nematologist and soil pathologist, last year took up a three-year position funded by the GRDC with CIMMYT.

"To date there are no commercially availab resistant varieties to control RLN (Pratylenchius thornei), crown rot (Fusarium graminearum) or common root rot (Bipolaris sorokiniana)," Dr Nicol said. "My work aims to breed new varieties of wheat which can resist these damaging diseases."Dr Nicol said she had access to new types of genetic material and wheat information produced and stored at CIMMYT.

"It is with this genetic material we have a high probability of finding varieties to control these soil diseases," she said. "I believe there are many opportunities for further collaboration between Australian and international scientists to benefit Australian farmers and our neighbours in the developing world. I thank the GRDC for taking the initiative and foresight to establish such linkages."