[ASC-media] GENETIC IMPROVEMENT VALUE ADDS GRAIN: 'Institute of Agriculture - UWA' media release

BRENDON CANT brendon at iinet.net.au
Wed Apr 25 04:37:52 CEST 2007

Lest we forget




Improving genetics can shift grain from bulk commodity to value added
opportunity, enhance profit margins and help differentiate grain products in
a competitive global market place.


Profitable and sustainable grain production results from developing new
varieties, using molecular markers to track traits, capitalising on new
market opportunities and collaborating internationally.


Presenting at an Institute of Agriculture, University of Western Australia
(UWA) seminar, Canadian Associate Professor Istvan Rajcan from the
University of Guelph, Ontario, discussed the benefits of genetically
optimising seed composition to create value added opportunities.


He was at UWA to develop collaboration between his group and the Institute
of Agriculture.


Professor Rajcan said molecular markers are useful tools for mapping
important seed traits to improve conventional grain varieties and could also
help develop disease resistance and improve crop adaptation to specific
growing environments.


"Plant breeders should increasingly employ molecular markers to study
disease trait genetics, especially resistance genes for white mould, which
affect such broadleaf crops as lupins and canola," he said.


"Developing new plants with novel traits takes advantage of new markets,
especially in an industry with low and stagnating commodity prices, such as
lupins in WA.


"There is great potential for growers to increase yields and profits by
being open minded about new crop uses and closely monitoring market trends,"
he said.


Professor Rajcan breeds high yielding and superior quality soybean varieties
for specific markets and in the past decade he has developed 25 varieties.


"Novel seed quality helps growers enter new designer food and biofuel
industries," he said.


"Producing designer foods or functional foods, using varieties containing
phytochemicals, can benefit human health.


"Reducing trans fatty acids to achieve higher quality oil also benefits
human health because trans fats, a byproduct of hydrogenating oils high in
linolenic acid, such as soybean and canola, are associated with coronary
heart disease, which is on the rise in many countries.


"Decreasing linolenic acid in soybean seeds from nine to two per cent means
we've produced healthier commercial varieties free of trans fats, which are
worse than saturated fats," he said.


The rapid growth of biodiesel plants and consumption in the US and Europe
has increased the demand to produce biofuels from plant based oils.


Professor Rajcan's breeding program is studying the potential to push
soybean seed oil content from 19 per cent to 25 per cent, which would,
ultimately, mean a cheaper per hectare oil price.


HYPERLINK "http://www.fnas.uwa.edu.au/"www.fnas.uwa.edu.au



Authorised by 'Institute of Agriculture - UWA' and issued on its behalf by

Brendon Cant & Associates, Tel 08 9384 1122



Associate Professor Istvan Rajcan, email: irajcan at uoguelph.ca

Professor Kadambot Siddique, Tel 08 6488 7012, Mobile 0411 155 396



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