Australia’s 6.6 million tonne barley industry would not be where it is today without a key project in WA that has more than 11,000 lines, comprising wild types, landraces, varieties and breeding lines, in its general barley collection.
The 30 year old barley germplasm enhancement project is located at the University of WA (UWA) Research Station in Shenton Park and has contributed to the development of several successful barely varieties in WA and nationally.
Most recently, it provided parental lines used in the breeding of Vlamingh, released in February this year and recently granted malting status.
Vlamingh should boost Australian barley growers’ pockets, potentially delivering $25 to $40 per hectare more than existing varieties.
This Grains Research and Development Corporation supported project has not only assisted WA growers, by boosting WA's $52 million export malting barley industry, but has also helped fill beer drinkers’ glasses around the world.
UWA School of Plant Biology Research Officer, Christina Grime said Vlamingh was just one of many positive outcomes from the project, which benefits the barley industry by introducing greater genetic variation into Australian breeding programs to increase yield and quality in new varieties.
“We achieve this through greater disease resistance, tolerances to abiotic stresses and new genes for quality traits,” Ms Grime said.
“There are numerous activities within the project, from introduction, evaluation, enhancement (pre-breeding), storage and dispatching barley germplasm, either as straight introductions or cross progeny, with novel traits.”
Ms Grime noted that many malting quality lines were sourced from breeding programs in Canada, Europe, South Africa and Uruguay and disease and stress tolerance lines from gene banks in Japan and the USA.
“Imported seed is sown at the UWA Research Station and its development, morphology, agronomy and disease resistance is then evaluated,” she said.
The project also stored doubled haploid (DH) populations from the WA Department of Agriculture and Food and overseas and interstate, for use in genome mapping projects.
The 45,000 DH barley collections at UWA are growing annually by about 5000 lines.
Professor Kadambot Siddique, Director of the Institute of Agriculture at UWA, said the GRDC-supported barley breeding program was an example of UWA’s capacity for quality research, ultimately resulting in a positive commercial outcome for agriculture.
“UWA’s role in providing parental lines for the new malting barley variety, Vlamingh, was significant, because besides agronomic, disease and pest considerations, a barley variety must satisfy something like 35 other quality traits to qualify as malting,” he said.
Ms Christina Grime, Telephone (+61 8) 9387 3646
Professor Kadambot Siddique, Telephone (+61 8) 6488 7012, Mobile 0411 155 396