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July 25, 2011

Future food security requires accelerating the rate of wheat yield improvement

Australian CSIRO researchers are working to avert future food security catastrophes we must accelerate the rate of wheat yield improvement.

Locating genes of agricultural importance within the complex wheat genome is challenging but possible using new high-tech equipment such as that being developed by the High Resolution Plant Phenomics Centre (HRPPC) in Canberra.


CSIRO’s Dr Richard PoirĂ© is studying Brachypodium – a type of grass similar in many ways to wheat – at the HRPPC to identify the function and location of the genes responsible for important traits such as shoot growth, biomass accumulation, photosynthesis and root growth.

By studying a model plant and applying the findings to cereals, scientists can accelerate the breeding of next-generation food and biofuel crops.

Another member of the team, Dr Anton Wasson, is investigating root growth in Australian and Indian wheat crops.

His aim is to identify new wheat varieties with faster-growing, deeper root systems that can capture more water during flowering and grain development. If successful, the research will enable wheat breeders to produce improved varieties for the water-limited environments of both Australia and India.

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