Searching for a gene

Combine harvester in a field of barley

Soil acidity can cut cereal yields significantly and reduce crop options especially when aluminium toxicity results from low soil pH levels.

While liming is the most practical and recommended way to increase soil pH levels, lime can take a long time to work its way into the subsoil.

Consequently aluminium-tolerant varieties are a desirable option and work to that end is under way at NSW Agriculture, Wagga Wagga, in the barley improvement program.

Molecular biologist Harsh Raman is making good progress in the search for a molecular marker system to help select aluminium-tolerant lines, and his poster on the studies at the conference won him the 'best poster' prize. Molecular markers overcome the time-consuming field screening process.