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Nematode-Resistant Wheat Breeding Lines Available

14 May 2012

AUSTRALIA - 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.

Agri-Science Queensland has released five new wheat breeding lines that are both tolerant and resistant to the root-lesion nematode, Pratylenchus thornei. These were developed with funding provided by the Grains Research and Development Corporation.

This plant parasite affects two-thirds of our northern grain crops and can reduce yield by up to 65 per cent, costing growers $50 million every year.

Agri-Science Queensland plant pathologist Jason Sheedy said these new wheat lines should reduce nematode populations in the field while maximising yields.

"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," Mr Sheedy said.

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 invaded 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."

Mr Sheedy said that testing services were available for growers who were uncertain about nematode levels in their paddocks.

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