The second and final stage of an ambitious project to accelerate uptake of physiological traits in commercial breeding programs and advance the yield of Australian wheat launched this week at The University of Western Australia.
The Grains Research and Development Corporation-funded research is a collaboration led by commercial wheat breeding company Australian Grain Technologies (AGT) together with UWA, CSIRO, and Australian National University (ANU).
Substantial global effort and investment have been dedicated to studying the plant physiological and biochemical processes in wheat in order to significantly enhance yield through optimisation.
However, the precise connection between these traits and yield, as well as their interaction with the environment, has remained unclear and limited their adoption in breeding programs.
Image: Physiological phenotyping of photosynthesis in the field, using a LICOR Biosciences 6400XT. Credit: Dr Nicolas Taylor
Dr Nicolas Taylor from The UWA Institute of Agriculture and School of Molecular Sciences said the four-year project aimed to address this knowledge gap.
“We will endeavour to implement physiological and biochemical traits in wheat, accelerate the adoption of the most valuable traits by Australian wheat breeding programs, and offer Australian farmers new wheat varieties with notably increased yield potential in water limited conditions,” he said.
During the first phase of the project in 2022, the research team applied existing data and knowledge to select three potential high-impact traits for validation.
In phase 2, the selected traits will be assessed under field conditions to determine their value and potential for increasing yield.
Dr Taylor said his team intended to revamp the pre-breeding model by utilising a dynamic and adaptable approach to address a multifaceted set of challenges.
“We will scrutinise and assess these physiology-based traits (photosynthesis and respiration) that have demonstrated to have a favourable effect in conditions with limited water availability,” he said.
“This research project is really about taking research that has been developed in the lab, tested in research plots and now deploying it into a breeding program.”Dr Nicolas Taylor
Dr Taylor said the UWA team was thrilled to continue expanding on the fruitful collaboration between researchers and industry.
“We were elated when AGT chose us after the initial stage of the project,” he said.
“It has been so rewarding to witness the efforts of the UWA and ANU researchers as they execute their research from an International Wheat Yield Partnership initiative in Australia."
Dr Nicolas Taylor (The UWA Institute of Agriculture and School of Molecular Sciences) +61 08 6488 1107
Cathrine Ingvordsen (Australian Grain Technologies) +61 402 475 053
Rosanna Candler (Communications Officer, The UWA Institute of Agriculture) +61 08 6488 1650