Waterlogging has become one of the major abiotic stresses that limit the production of barley crop in high rainfall areas of Australia, in particular, Tasmania.
The development of waterlogging tolerant varieties is an effective and economical approach to improve crop production under waterlogging conditions. However, the progress of developing waterlogging tolerant barley varieties is slow due to the complexity of waterlogging conditions resulting from different water depth, soil type, duration of waterlogging, nutrient ions and temperature.
Waterlogging tolerance is also a complex trait, controlled by many genes including some with small effects. Molecular markers have provided plant breeders with a method to improve selection accuracy and accelerate breeding programs.
Previous TIA research identified a new gene controlling one of the major tolerance mechanisms, i.e. aerenchyma formation in roots under waterlogging conditions. The new gene from a wild barley accession not only produces a greater proportion of aerenchyma, but makes a greater contribution to the overall waterlogging tolerance.
The team have already fine mapped the gene and some co-segregating markers have been identified. These markers are now ready to be used in selection programs. A new system has also been established to develop a new variety in a very short time (3 years). The end product, new variety, will provide direct benefits to grain industry.
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This project is funded by the Grains Research & Development Corporation.