Blackleg is a real problem for canola growers, realising an average of 10% yield loss per year. Led by Professor Jacqueline Batley, the UWA Batley Lab team, have developed an accurate screening platform to help Australian breeding companies identify resistance genes. They are also finding novel and sustainable sources of resistance genes; resulting in enhanced productivity, profit, stable yields for breeding companies, and a reduction in the need for farmers to apply fungicide on their crops.
Pulses and legumes contain about twice the protein found in whole grain cereals and have been shown to reduce the incidence of cancer, diabetes and heart disease. Australia produces around 2.25 million tonnes of pulses annually. However, changes in the production environment such as climate, new pests, water shortages and higher farming costs requires pulse breeders to have better strategies to ensure crops can adapt to changing conditions. Dr Janine Croser and her team at UWA have developed the aSSD platform. The platform speeds the development of pure lines for plant breeders; with improved crop quality, predictability and resilience of offspring in harsh climate conditions for farmers as well as better quality food for consumers.
UWA’s sustained research program into molecular genetics and the identification of molecular markers in canola crossbreeding has led to the development and release of 50 new improved canola varieties since 2004, with higher yield, disease resistance, and herbicide tolerance for weed control, thereby improving the long-term sustainability of Australian cropping systems. These canola varieties which have been adopted by farmers because of their higher yield and disease resistance, allow more sustainable crop rotations and improved farm profits. Significant economic benefits have also been delivered to seed production and distribution companies. New breeding methods have the potential to improve crop adaptation to climate change.