Alliance aids WA lupin and oat growth

Cally DupeCountryman
Western Crop Genetics Alliance director Professor Chengdao Li, DPIRD research, development and innovation managing director Mark Sweetingham, and Murdoch University Food Futures Institute pro vice chancellor Peter Davies inspect oat varieties in the alliance’s glasshouse at Murdoch University.
Camera IconWestern Crop Genetics Alliance director Professor Chengdao Li, DPIRD research, development and innovation managing director Mark Sweetingham, and Murdoch University Food Futures Institute pro vice chancellor Peter Davies inspect oat varieties in the alliance’s glasshouse at Murdoch University. Credit: Peter Maloney

A new grains research alliance hopes to strengthen the development of new lupin and oat varieties bred specifically for WA conditions.

The Western Crop Genetics Alliance is an expansion of the Western Barley Genetics Alliance between the Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development and Murdoch University, established in 2015.

DPIRD research development and innovation managing director Mark Sweetingham said the expansion was a natural progression to include lupin and oats pre-breeding work, alongside barley.

Dr Sweetingham said the Western Crop Genetics Alliance was a good fit for the department’s genetic improvement research, which would be able to draw on the resources of the barley alliance team.

“The alliance has adaptive technology and expertise that can easily be extended to lupin and oats genetics research,” he said. “It has also been successful in attracting investment and industry support – a business model that has potential to extend to these new crops.”

The evolution of the alliance is timely, given increasing global interest in lupins and oats for human consumption, particularly as a protein substitute in plant-based food products and as a gluten-free alternative grain.

Dr Sweetingham said both crops had huge market growth potential.

“WA produces more than 70 per cent of the world’s lupins, most of which are currently destined for the feed market,” he said. “WA also produces almost 50 per cent of the nation’s oats and has a long history of working with other States in developing new varieties.”

Murdoch University Food Futures Institute pro vice-chancellor Peter Davies said the extension was testament to the success of the scientific collaboration between the two partners. The new alliance will be led by former Western Barley Genetics Alliance director Professor Chengdao Li.

Get the latest news from thewest.com.au in your inbox.

Sign up for our emails