Pacific Seeds is partnering with the University of Queensland (UQ) and the QLD Department of Agriculture and Fisheries to ‘unlock’ available heat-stress tolerant genes in sorghum to deliver new varieties that are better adapted to our future climate.
The project has just received $605,000 in grant funds from the Australian Research Council and aims to deliver a solution to climate variations significantly impacting broadacre farmers.
Pacific Seeds managing director Barry Croker said rising temperatures are a major problem in many sorghum growing regions.
“A recent study from USA showed that every degree centigrade increase in temperature can lead to 10 per cent yield reduction in sorghum,” said Mr Croker.
“We are excited to be working with UQ to develop a platform to screen sorghum for heat stress and extend our research to make sorghum growers more profitable in the face of climate change, and make sorghum a profitable choice in a number of regions in Australia particularly those that are currently excluded due to high temperatures.
“The exciting thing about this project is that the plan isn’t to just produce a research paper, but also develop a commercial product that farmers will directly benefit from.
“The initial three year research phase aims to create better understanding of the basic genetics and physiology of heat stress tolerance so that the principles developed can be extracted and pursued in the future to improve the heat tolerance of various other crops including corn and wheat.“
UQ director of plant science research and project leader Professor Graeme Hammer said the increasing effect of higher temperatures on grain yield is a growing concern.
“What is unique about this project is that it brings together multidisciplinary experts and tries to connect basic discovery and applied breeding works in one go, making the research process efficient both in terms of time and resource use,” said Prof. Hammer.
“The plan is to identify physiological and genetic mechanisms underpinning heat stress tolerance and then use the resulting knowledge and tools to develop heat stress resilient sorghum that ensures better productivity in hotter growing conditions.”
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Featured Image: Leighton Hight, Solomon Fekybelu and Wayne Chesher. Image courtesy of Pacific Seeds