Friday, July 17, 2009

Salt Tolerant GM Wheat - Paddock Trials in 2010

Researchers expect to have genetically modified salt tolerant cereal lines in the paddock for trials next year, in a big boost for the 70pc of Australian farmers affected by salinity.

A project into salt tolerance, conducted jointly by the University of Adelaide and the Australian Centre for Plant Functional Genomics (ACPFG) has had some promising results.

"I'm excited by what is happening – the preliminary results are looking good, we are confident we will be able to reduce the amount of salt that gets into the plant, which then limits the yield," project leader Professor Mark Tester said. He said there was huge application within the Australian grains industry for salt tolerant lines, with research out of the University of Adelaide showing that 70pc of the nation's grain belt was in some way affected by excess salinity. "We estimate that salinity could be costing up to $200 million annually, working on yield limitations of 10pc across 70pc of the cropping area."

This is a rapid update on the work reported here a few days ago, which really was a scientific report in a world leading journal. This now is real 'on the ground" progress.

While salt trolerance development is somewhat easier in speices such as rice and barley, and excellent progress is already occurring in these species, getting salt tolerance into wheat will be a major achievement.

Somehow I do not expect that the plants will be torn out of the ground. This type of development using GM technology can make a very big difference into crop yields - not by removing all of the 10% yield gap now existing, but maybe around half of that gap.

That will be a big payoff if true!!

media release here -

1 comment:

Dessie - Barley Juice said...

How's the crop yield of salt- tolerant GM wheat today? This will also be helpful to other countries with salinity in their soil. Interesting concept.