Rot-resistant wheat could save farmers millions

October 28, 2009
Fusarium causes head blight of barley. Credit: CSIRO

( -- CSIRO researchers have identified wheat and barley lines resistant to Crown Rot - a disease that costs Australian wheat and barley farmers $79 million in lost yield every year.

Crown Rot, which is a chronic problem throughout the Australian wheat belt, is caused by the Fusarium.

Dr Chunji Liu and his CSIRO Plant Industry team in Brisbane are using sophisticated screening methods to scan over 2400 wheat lines and 1000 barley lines from around the world to find the ones resistant the fungal disease.

"The wheat and barley lines showing resistance to Crown Rot are now being used in pre-breeding programs to incorporate the resistance into adapted varieties for delivery to the wheat breeding companies," Dr Liu says.

Crown Rot infects many grasses and weeds found in wheat growing regions and minimum till cropping encourages Fusarium which survives in cereal stubbles.

This image shows Fusarium growing on a wheat stem base. Credit: CSIRO

Minimum till cropping minimises disturbance and retains plant stubble from previous crops in order to promote soil health and limit erosion.

Developing Crown Rot resistant wheat and barley varieties is an essential strategy in fighting the disease.

"As well as developing Crown Rot resistant varieties, we are also studying how Fusarium invades the plant, how resist Fusarium infection and what genes may be involved in defending the plant against Fusarium or reducing its effect on yield," Dr Liu says.

Another of the most serious wheat diseases in Australia, Head Blight, is also caused by Fusarium.

Source: CSIRO Australia

Explore further: Researchers developing better wheat

Related Stories

Researchers developing better wheat

February 16, 2006

Eighteen universities across the United States are combining desirable genes from different varieties of wheat to make better and more competitive varieties.

Newly Cloned Gene Key to More Adaptable Wheat Varieties

December 5, 2006

In a research discovery that has practical implications for improving wheat varieties, a team of scientists at the University of California, Davis, and the U.S. Department of Agriculture have cloned a gene that controls the ...

Elusive rust resistance genes located

December 6, 2006

The discovery of a DNA marker for two key rust resistance genes is enabling plant breeders around the world to breed more effective rust resistant wheat varieties.

Building disease-beating wheat

December 12, 2007

Pioneered by CSIRO researchers, in collaboration with the International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center (CIMMYT) and Sydney University, the research illustrates the major genetic improvements possible without genetic modification ...

Recommended for you

New gene map reveals cancer's Achilles heel

November 25, 2015

Scientists have mapped out the genes that keep our cells alive, creating a long-awaited foothold for understanding how our genome works and which genes are crucial in disease like cancer.

Study suggests fish can experience 'emotional fever'

November 25, 2015

(—A small team of researchers from the U.K. and Spain has found via lab study that at least one type of fish is capable of experiencing 'emotional fever,' which suggests it may qualify as a sentient being. In their ...

How cells in the developing ear 'practice' hearing

November 25, 2015

Before the fluid of the middle ear drains and sound waves penetrate for the first time, the inner ear cells of newborn rodents practice for their big debut. Researchers at Johns Hopkins report they have figured out the molecular ...

How cells 'climb' to build fruit fly tracheas

November 25, 2015

Fruit fly windpipes are much more like human blood vessels than the entryway to human lungs. To create that intricate network, fly embryonic cells must sprout "fingers" and crawl into place. Now researchers at The Johns Hopkins ...


Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.