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New five-year research project aims to boost disease resistance in WA lupin crop

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Adam PoulsenCountryman
Murdoch University Professor Chengdao Li, DPIRD research scientist Geoff Thomas, Australian Grain Technologies lupin breeder Matthew Aubert, and Curtin University Centre for Crop and Disease Management project leader Lars Kamphuis.
Camera IconMurdoch University Professor Chengdao Li, DPIRD research scientist Geoff Thomas, Australian Grain Technologies lupin breeder Matthew Aubert, and Curtin University Centre for Crop and Disease Management project leader Lars Kamphuis. Credit: Peter Maloney/DPIRD

Improving the disease resistance of narrow-leafed lupin and delivering improved varieties for WA growers is the focus of a new five-year research project unveiled this week.

The research is being conducted by a team of scientists from the Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development, Curtin University, Murdoch University and plant breeding company Australian Grain Technologies.

Investment is via the Grains Research and Development Corporation and WA Agricultural Research Collaboration.

DPIRD research scientist Geoff Thomas said better disease resistance would reduce potential crop losses, improve grain quality and ultimately improve productivity and the economics of lupin production.

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“The outcomes from this project will be shared with prebreeders and breeders to reduce the impacts of the diseases phomopsis, cucumber mosaic virus, anthracnose and sclerotinia on the lupin industry,” he said.

Researchers will screen and genotype a core set of germplasm selected from cultivars, breeding lines and wild relatives to identify resistance genes to the four diseases.

Some 500 lines have been chosen for initial testing.

The project aims to develop high-throughput phenotyping methods, deploying traditional methodologies, artificial intelligence and molecular techniques to provide effective screening tools.

Genomic data and modelling tools will be used to identify resistance genes and develop molecular markers for marker-assisted selection to help breed elite cultivars.

Scientists from DPIRD and Curtin’s Centre for Crop and Disease Management will focus on the phenotyping components to develop robust screening methods.

CCDM project leader Lars Kamphuis said the team will focus on developing phenotyping techniques for the broad host range pathogen sclerotinia.

A team from Murdoch University will lead the genetic analysis of phomopsis, CMV and anthracnose resistance.

Murdoch Professor Chengdao Li said the project aimed to provide new genetic resources as well as precision tools to breed the next generation of lupin varieties faster, in a bid to meet future disease challenges for growers.

GRDC genetic technologies manager Camilla Hill said lupins were “a vital component of WA’s agricultural landscape” and could thrive in poor soils where most other legumes struggled to grow.

“GRDC’s investment in this project is geared towards enhancing grower outcomes by streamlining disease control and bolstering yield stability in future narrow-leafed lupin varieties,” Dr Hill said.

The Grain Industry Association of WA’s latest crop report forecast the State’s growers would harvest 320,000 tonnes of lupins this season, compared to 8.12Mt of wheat, 3.84Mt of barley, 2.22Mt of canola, 385,000t of oats, and 64,000t of pulses.

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