New wheat bred for resistance, yield

23 Feb, 2005 10:00 PM

DISEASE resistance and yield enhancing are some of the traits the CSIRO is breeding into the latest lines of wheat.

Canberra CSIRO Plant Industry researcher Richard Richards introduced the new wheat varieties at last week's Crop Updates.

"Australian wheat breeding is undergoing substantial change," Mr Richards said.

"To capitalise on our improved understanding of conditions and factors limiting productivity, the time is now right to target genes aimed at overcoming limitations.

"We need to be more adventurous in using new traits/genes, which can be introduced through breeding."

The CSIRO has been involved in two breeding programs for wheat - the Graingene program focused on developing more water-efficient varieties and another program concentrated on developing wheats for the high rainfall zone (HRZ).

The wheat varieties that have emerged from the Graingene program are Drysdale and Rees, marketed by AWB seeds.

According to Mr Richards, the Graingene wheat range targeted traits such as:

p Longer coleoptiles to improve crop establishment

p Greater transpiration efficiency to produce more biomass and yield per unit of rainfall

p More vigorous early growth to reduce water lost from the soil surface by direct evaporation, and reduce herbicide use

p Great carbohydrate store in the stem around flowering to transfer to the grain to reduce screenings and for drought protection

p Reduction of later formed tillers, which usually die, to concentrate resources into the primary tillers.

The HRZ program featured four germ plasm streams and also included the introduction of Mackellar wheat.

Mr Richards said that the HRZ streams included elite lines bred in New Zealand, Barley Yellow Dwarf Virus resistance in Australian wheats, dual-purpose wheats (grazing and milling), longer coleoptiles and reduced tillering into dual-purpose wheats for the zone.


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