Ground Cover North : Ground Cover 059 December-January 2006 - North
Durum GrounD cover December 2005/January 2006 6 crop protection research exchange also covers pulses Similar preventative research efforts to the durum project are aimed to protect chickpea producers against Fusarium wilt and pulse growers generally against other existing and potential diseases. The IcarDa–australia crop protection project for pulses involves an ongoing exchange of pulse lines that have been bred at IcarDa, developed further in australia and returned to IcarDa as agronomically-improved material for further development such as disease resistance. In the chickpea program, which has already resulted in sev- eral recently-released varieties with resistance to ascochyta blight, IcarDa is working with the Department of Primary Industries victoria (DPI) at Horsham and the centre for Legumes in mediterranean agriculture (cLIma) in Perth to screen chickpea breeding material for Fusarium wilt. The disease does not exist in australia, but again, the industry policy is to be ready with resistant varieties the moment it appears. Dr bassam bayaa, senior consultant and legume pathologist with IcarDa’s germplasm program, says the level of resistance being bred into australian varieties is steadily increasing. He says the collaborative project is also identifying new, emerging diseases, such as root rot in faba beans in nSW and Cercospora leaf spot in Sa and Wa. Dr bayaa explains that suitable germplasm and/or breeding material identified first at IcarDa is sent to cLIma, the victorian DPI, nSW DPI at Tamworth and the university of adelaide. “These genetic resources are utilised in australian breeding programs and the most promising lines are sent back to IcarDa for further screen- ing for resistance to major diseases. Several hybrid faba beans (five lines and three crosses) from adelaide were the best performers in our nurseries in 2005. “also, the knowledge of the diseases’ epidemiology, generated by colleagues in australia, is allowing us to tailor a prognosis model that will advise farmers on appropriate responses such as when to spray.” each year some 200 chickpea lines, 50 to 100 lentil lines and 40 faba bean accessions are sent to IcarDa from australia for testing for disease resistance. In the first year they are checked in a quar- antine area for any exotic disease and then introduced to IcarDa’s screening nurseries, in which the plants must survive in a deliber- ately diseased trial site for them to be retained. IcarDa researchers are constantly on the lookout for new sources of disease resistance, and seed-collecting missions are routinely undertaken in areas where there might be landrace variet- ies or ancestral plants with broad genetic bases. a mission to china last year – supported by the australian centre for International agricultural research (acIar) – yielded 25 new faba bean lines for introducing to the genetic pool. “crop protection is a never-ending struggle,” Dr bayaa says. “on one side you have breeders trying to find and develop resistance and on the other side the pathogens are trying to keep ahead for their own survival.” The challenge for plant pathologists and breeders is to try to introduce resistance genes from plants that also have desirable agronomic traits. but new sources of resistance are often found in plants that are poor agronomically: “Without biotechnology it becomes a very long process to exploit a good source of disease resistance from an otherwise poor plant,” Dr bayaa says. “For the moment, biotechnologies such as Gm are academic because we don’t have all the relevant gene markers. but clearly this will be an important tool in the future.” ÆFor more information: Dr bassam bayaa, email@example.com research to keep ahead of danger n They say forewarned is forearmed, and in the case of durum, this means growers being covered in advance against the arrival from overseas of potentially devastating pests or diseases. Dr Ray Hare, at the Tamworth Agricultural Institute, and Dr Miloudi Nachit, from the International Center for Agricultural Research in the Dry Areas (ICARDA) in Syria, are collaborating to develop Australian durum varieties with resistance to some of the crop’s most serious threats. The intention is to give the industry in Australia a safety net against pests and diseases that have not yet hit Australia but which are considered inevitable. “My role is anticipatory breeding,” Dr Nachit explains. “That means making sure Australian growers have replacement disease and pest-resistant varieties when they are needed.” The research facilities at ICARDA, in a region that shares a similar climate to most of the Australian grain belt, enable breeders to work with pests and diseases that cannot be brought into Australia for research and breeding. “However, we can do all the disease pressure work here (in Syria) and alleviate the need for Australia to worry about quarantine issues,” he says. Durum threats being worked on at ICARDA include Septoria tritici blotch, durum virulent leaf rust and Hessian fly, which can destroy entire crops. Neither Hessian fly or the durum virulent leaf rust exist in Australia, but history has shown that this can no longer be taken for granted. Septoria tritici blotch is in Australia but highly virulent pathotypes on durum are not known. The Mediterranean coastal plain in Syria is considered an ideal location for Septoria screening. Dr Nachit and Dr Hare are working to introduce resistances to these pathogens into current Australian varieties and advanced breeding lines, so that the Australian breeders will have ready access to resistant Australian-adapted breeding lines if a disease or pest incursion happens. The GRDC-supported work at Tamworth and ICARDA is being done in conjunction with national breeding programs in Morocco and Lebanon, where durum is an important cash crop. Morocco and Lebanon are regarded as ‘hot spots’ for durum-attacking diseases and pests, making them ideal screening locations. “We’ve been making good progress through the use of biotechnology, such as molecular markers,” Dr Nachit says. “We are also mapping the durum genome, and developing rust resistance for Australian durum varieties.” Dr Nachit says durum development in the Mediterranean part of the world needs the input of Australian research because Australia is the only country with a dry Mediterranean climate that also has a high level of agricultural research. The collaborative project is considered mutually beneficial to both the Tamworth and ICARDA programs. Durum research and breeding development, covering a wide range of topics, is freely shared, including breeding materials, data and protocols and research findings on biotechnology, physiology, grain quality and disease resistance. “Durum is an important cash crop in this part of the world, used for pasta, couscous, burghul (a cracked wheat) and frike (a grain harvested at dough stage and used in home cooking).” Dr Nachit says the demand for durum is increasing around the world, especially as people’s awareness of the health benefits of grains-based foods increases. “However, collaborative research is vital if we are to realise this crop’s potential to create a huge market in which there will be room for all of the major producers.” Dr Nachit says the ongoing development of superior durum varieties across all durum- producing nations will help establish durum’s competitiveness against substitute grains, and its reliability for quality and supply: “The last thing durum growers want is for the price of high-quality grain to become prohibitive and the supply to become irregular. Millers and pasta makers would turn away from durum and look for substitutes.” ÆGrDc research code DAn00064 For more information: Dr Miloudi nachit, firstname.lastname@example.org; www.icarda.cgiar.org brad collis speaks to international durum researcher Dr miloudi nachit, who is collaborating with australian colleague Dr ray Hare to ensure the australian industry is protected against diseases and insects that experience shows will eventually reach this country “collaborative research is vital”: Dr Miloudi nachit, durum breeder at icArDA in Syria. PHoToS: braD coLLIS Dr Bassam Bayaa, legume pathologist (left), with chickpea breeder Dr rajendra Malhotra in a plot at icArDA where plants are exposed to pathogens to screen for resistance.
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Ground Cover 058 October-November 2005 - North