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Improving the adaptation & profitability of high value pulses (chickpea & lentil) across Australian agroecological zones
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The production of high value, human consumption pulses in Australia is dominated by lentil and chickpea, and is concentrated on the more fertile soils in the medium rainfall areas of the southern and northern regions. Due to the farming system benefits of imposing a double break and the high prices in recent years, there is much interest in expanding lentil and chickpea production onto soils with a number of constraints (acidity, nutrient toxicities and deficiencies, poor structure) and into other rainfall zones. It is critical that new pulses be developed and managed such that the crop life-cycle fits within the constraints of availability of soil water, frost and heat stresses and flowering and pod-set occur in the optimum window for different agroecological zones.
As time to flowering and pod-set are so critical in these crops, understanding and improving them in existing production regions and where they have not been optimised yet is one of the most critical elements that can contribute to their adoption and deliver potential step changes in yield and profit. The national pulse phenology investment proposed will utilise common genetic resources across existing and potential pulse expansion regions of Australia to expedite delivery of data, tools and knowledge which can inform crop breeding. It will leverage international R&D activities, and new synergies provided by recent developments in understanding of genome synteny and conserved pathways in this group of crops to deliver on investment outputs.
What is new
There is a gap in understanding of the genetic control underlying phenology in pulse crops (chickpea and lentil) which underpins ‘fitting’ crop growth into the best timeframe for target production environments. The genes/ quantitative trait loci (QTL) identified will present the opportunity to:
(i)determine the genetic basis of contrasting adaptation characteristics of chickpea and lentil,
(ii)match critical phenological stages to the constraints and opportunities of the target environment,
(iii)identify genetic and environmental factors controlling the rate of phasic development and reproductive survival across a range of target environments to inform breeding decisions and growers choice of varieties.
Knowledge of the effect of different phenology gene/allele combinations of pulse crops across diverse environments will facilitate the development of new varieties with higher yield potential and better yield stability than currently available in existing production zones and potential expansion areas. This will not only maintain the sustainability of the pulses in their traditional areas but facilitate growth and expansion into new target production environments. This is of particular relevance to the Western region where the current production area of both crops is low <5,000 ha) but the potential is high, particularly for chickpeas as an alternative to lupin.
Access to improved varieties and knowledge will help growers match the life-cycle of pulse crops to Australian growing conditions and close the gap between achieved versus potential yield, increasing farm productivity and profitability.
This investment aims at comprehensive characterisation of major genes and loci controlling phenology/flowering time, a key adaptation trait, in cultivated chickpea and lentil and their wild relatives. The investment will generate a comprehensive, high-quality dataset of chickpea and lentil phenology (flowering, beginning and end of pod-set, maturity) from field trials with locations in the three growing regions, controlled environment facilities, and large samples of diverse genetic material. This data set will be a critical input to the:
a)genetic analyses, the focus of this investment
b)generating critical datasets for potential modelling R&D to support risk analysis
c)farming systems agronomy research.
Profitable pulse crops as part of the farming system that contributes to enduring profitability for Australian grain growers.
By 2023, Australian chickpea and lentil breeders have access to genetic and phenotyping tools to improve the matching of variety and environment for established and emerging production environments.
1.Knowledge of genetic and environmental control of chickpea and lentil phenology including identification of QTLs/genes controlling flowering, beginning and end of pod-set and maturity delivered to Australian breeders.
2.A genetic database that accounts for the variation in phenology of existing Australian chickpea and lentil varieties, and key pre-breeding and breeding lines. This database will be available for breeders to select parents for breeding crosses and for informing predictive models.
3.Comprehensive, high-quality datasets of grain yield, linked to phenology, for a targeted set of latitudes and thermal environments. These data will be used in two ways. First, to develop tools that will guide breeders in the choice of parents to be used in crossing for developing varieties with potential to match phenological development of high yielding chickpea and lentil varieties to their target production environment. Second, generate data that will contribute in further R&D efforts towards developing crop simulation models which will assist growers in risk analysis in decisions around chickpea and lentil production.
4.Knowledge of the optimal phase development patterns of high yielding chickpea and lentil germplasm, within a defined set of relevant Australian target production environment types.
All applications must be submitted via the GRDC Grains Investment Portal https://access.grdc.com.au/ by 2 pm AEDT Wednesday 21 August 2019.
To register as a first-time user, please visit https://access.grdc.com.au/ and:
· Click on the register button at the top right-hand side.
· Complete the Registration Form. Fill in all the fields: your email address, a password and the captcha. Your password must be alphanumeric with at least one special character (i.e. not a letter or number). Click register to continue the process.
· Registration is confirmed by the system sending an email to you, with details to complete the registration process.
· Once the registration process is complete, you can sign in and review all investments open for tender
Once you have located this investment, you can commence the application process by completing the details for each field available, until you reach “Submit Application” on the last page.
If you have any questions or concerns please feel free to contact GRDC Contracts Administrator via email Justine.Morgan@grdc.com.au or use the online support function available.
1. The Applicant must be a single legal entity or recognised firm of partners.
2. The Applicant and any proposed subcontractor must be compliant with the Workplace Gender Equality Act 2012.
This four-year investment will start October 2019 and conclude June 2024.
Tenderers must submit their responses electronically through the Grains Investment Portal at: https://access.grdc.com.au