[ASC-media] THIRSTY WHEATS TO LICK SALT: CROP DOCTOR

Brendon Cant brendon at iinet.net.au
Wed Feb 9 11:59:23 EST 2005


CROP DOCTOR


 


THIRSTY WHEATS TO LICK SALT  

 
Salt tolerant wheat may not be the solution to WA’s growing salinity problem
but may extend the current cropping range, allowing farmers to make use of
some of the millions of hectares rendered useless by encroaching salinity.
 
So, imagine a wheat variety that’s not only salt-tolerant, but also tolerant
to waterlogging.
 
New varieties tolerant of low oxygen and high salt levels are the projected
outcome of Grains Research and Development Corporation (GRDC) supported
research.
 
A previous GRDC supported project discovered traits for waterlogging
tolerance never before found in dry land crops or close relatives, in
Hordeum marinum, or sea barley grass.
 
H. marinum has very high salt tolerance and possesses mechanisms for root
aeration, which contribute to waterlogging tolerance. The challenge is to
create a successful hybrid that maintains these key traits.
 
Researchers from the University of Western Australia and the University of
Adelaide, supervised by Dr Tim Colmer as part of a larger program within the
CRC for Plant-based Management of Dryland Salinity, are now trialing sea
barley grass as a parent in crosses with bread wheat. 
 
Recent successes with the production of wheat-H. marinum hybrids show
exciting prospects for the potential to improve tolerance to salt and
waterlogging, in wheat.
 
In addition, the WA Department of Agriculture has developed doubled haploid
populations, from waterlogging-tolerant international germplasm crossed with
WA varieties, in order to provide faster improvements in wheat than is
possible with the wide crossing approach of H. marinum x wheat.
 
Screening experiments are well underway to identify the best donor parents
among Hordeum species for salinity and waterlogging tolerance traits.
 
Testing is also underway to assess if the cross-species hybrid can supply
oxygen to the growing root tips and tolerate oxygen in the same way Hordeum
species can.
 
The project will also evaluate current cereal germplasm for waterlogging
tolerance from germination and seedling stages, through to maturity.
 
www.grdc.com.au
 

The Crop Doctor is GRDC Managing Director, Peter Reading, Tel 02 6272 5525

Further Information: Dr Tim Colmer 08 9380 1993
GRDC REF: UWA 340, UWA398/cdapril045.doc
 
 
Brendon Cant & Associates
Public Relations & Marketing
114 Branksome Gardens
City Beach WA 6015
Tel 08 9385 7779 Fax 08 9385 7776
 
 
 

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