The results of eight years of research conducted by SARDI’s Yusuf Genc and colleagues were published recently in Frontiers in Plant Science. The project’s aim is to develop lines of bread wheat with the potential to significantly improve adaptation to saline or sodic soils. These findings have the potential to boost both the yield of and profit from the Australian wheat crop.

This project represents a productive collaboration between SARDI and the University of Adelaide’s School of Agriculture, Food and Wine. Five of the authors: Yusuf Genc, Julian Taylor, Graham Lyons, Yongle (Leo) Li and Tim Sutton are affiliated with the AFW School. The other authors are Judy Cheong (SARDI), Marie Appelbee (LongReach Plant Breeders) and Klaus Oldach (KWS, Germany).

We know that salinity (presence of salt) and sodicity (presence of sodium and certain soil physical traits) are major constraints to global cereal production, but until now, despite substantial international research effort, the impact in the field from this research for growers in marginal areas has been limited. The novel high-sodium bread wheat germplasm, MW#293, had higher grain yield under salinity and sodicity than the other bread and durum wheats tested.

This research is a potential game-changer for the wheat industry, and reinforces the reputations of SARDI and the AFW School as innovators with global influence. The next step is to undertake further yield trials and evaluation, which will determine the potential of the new wheat germplasm over the next two years. This work will be undertaken in partnership with industry.

This research has been funded by SARDI, with support from The Yitpi Foundation, The University of Adelaide, The Waite Research Institute and GRDC.

Dr Yusuf Genc and Dr Graham Lyons with the MW293 wheat

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