Wheat growers are expected to benefit from a new arrangement to exchange wheat germplasm with Norway to overcome the significant fungal disease Stagonospora nodorum blotch (SNB).
SNB costs Western Australian growers about $108 million each year, due to early leaf death and reduced grain fill, particularly in particularly in high rainfall areas and wet years.
The Department of Agriculture and Food has agreed to a reciprocal exchange of SNB resistant material with the University of Life Science in Norway, where SNB is the second most significant wheat disease.
Department senior research officer Michael Francki said the Norwegian material would be used to contribute to research to identify and track gene combinations that produce highly effective resistance to SNB.
Dr Francki said the new pre-breeding research collaboration would build on a similar arrangement with the United States.
“We have already been able to identify several genes that can be combined to create resistance to SNB using germplasm from across Australia and the US with DNA marker analysis provided by the State Agricultural Biotechnology Centre at Murdoch University,” he said.
“The addition of US germplasm from Purdue University not only helped us to identify three different genes to improve resistance, similar tests also showed the resistance stood up very well in different environments in Western Australia and the US.
“This result gives us confidence that the SNB resistant germplasm from Australia and US is robust and shows great potential to be incorporated into Australian breeding lines.
“We wish to investigate a similar concept and evaluate Norwegian germplasm to identify potential new genes to combine with existing genes from Australia and US sources, which could be used to further improve SNB resistance in wheat varieties.”
The Norwegian germplasm is expected to be received soon, which will be evaluated for resistance in WA, after seed is released from quarantine in 2017.
The University of Life Science will also benchmark the Australian SNB resistant lines against its own lines in Norway.
The genes from the US and Australian SNB resistant material have already been fast tracked and scheduled for delivery to the commercial wheat breeding sector, as part of the Effective Genetic Control of SNB project supported by the Grain Research and Development Corporation.
If the Norwegian material proves successful, it will help provide additional SNB resistance in new wheat breeding germplasm.
Dr Francki said mutually beneficial international collaboration was essential to continually improve disease resistance and boost yields.
“The industry needs access to new genes to overcome disease constraints,” he said.
“It is important to bring the benefits of international research efforts evaluating genes in different environments to improve the performance of the Australian lines.”