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Australia: new Pratylenchus-resistant wheat available

Australian wheat-breeding companies now have access to several new nematode resistant and tolerant wheat lines, which could enhance the approach to managing these pests in cereal crops. AgriScience Queensland has released five new wheat breeding lines that are both tolerant and resistant to the root-lesion nematode, Pratylenchus thornei. This plant parasite affects two-thirds of Australian northern grain crops and can reduce yield by up to 65 per cent, costing growers $50 million every year.

 “The nematode-tolerant characteristics will mean that the wheats can maximise yields under nematode-infested conditions, and the nematode-resistant characteristics will mean that soil populations should not build up and affect following wheat crops,” said Jason Sheedy, AgriScience Queensland plant pathologist (to the right, photo above).

Developed by staff at the Queensland Government’s Leslie Research Centre, the breeding lines are now available to Australian wheat breeding companies so they can develop commercial varieties with the root-lesion nematode resistance and tolerance characteristics.

Mr. Sheedy said nematodes invade wheat roots, making it difficult for plants to take up water and nutrients from the soil. “It is hard for growers to identify and manage individual paddock situations because symptoms of nematode attack are similar to drought or nutrient deficiency. By developing new nematode resistant wheat varieties, producers can potentially save a lot of money as the yield of wheat crops should not decline in infested paddocks. Also, putting the technology into the seed through genetic resistance and tolerance makes for significantly easier management, with no additional cost to growers”.

The release of the new lines is timed perfectly to fit in with the start of the 2012 planting season so breeding companies can introduce the new nematode resistance into their programs immediately.

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