Collaboration to stimulate frost research

Countryman

International collaboration in frost research is expected to result from the Department of Agriculture and Food hosting a visiting specialist from Argentina to work on research trials located in Western Australia and South Australia.

Masters student Diana Martino, from the National University of Mar del Plata, is visiting the department to learn the latest techniques in reproductive frost field phenotyping prior to commencing her PhD in this area in Argentina.

Ms Martino will participate in research as part of the Australian National Frost Program set up by the Grains Research and Development Corporation (GRDC) in collaboration with the Department of Agriculture and Food and the University of Adelaide.

The program is currently developing a system to rate commercial wheat and barley material for susceptibility to reproductive frost damage.

Department research officer Ben Biddulph, who is supervising Ms Martino's work during her stay, said there was little research carried out internationally on reproductive frost damage due to the complexity of the frosting environment.

"Recent advances in field phenotyping in Australia have resulted in the development of an approach which can discriminate among genotypes susceptibility to frost-induced sterility at flowering time," Dr Biddulph said.

"Currently, only Australia is carrying out targeted field screening of wheat for frost susceptibility.

"The collaboration with Argentina will help stimulate international research capacity in frost screening, which could speed the development of frost-tolerant varieties."

Dr Biddulph said the main objective of Ms Martino's visit was for her to learn the current field screening strategies, trial design, agronomy and site selection employed in Australia to screen for frost damage.

"Ms Martino will take our frost screening methods and ideas back to Argentina where they will be eagerly tested and adapted by breeders and plant physiologists at the National University of Mar del Plata," Dr Biddulph said.

"Ms Martino will also be given access to the germplasm she works on in Australia to phenotype for reproductive frost tolerance in Argentina in her subsequent field season trials.

"This visit provides a strong case for the future development of international collaboration in reproductive frost research and the development of more resilient grain production systems."

The international experience would also expand Ms Martino's scientific perspective through interactions with the broader scientific community and interactions with growers at the Department of Agriculture and Food, the University of Adelaide and CSIRO.

The visiting specialist is funded by a training grant from the Crawford Fund through the Department of Agriculture and Food and the University of Adelaide.

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