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24 October 2022: High Amylose Wheat is on the move to consumers

High amylose wheat (HAW) provides more dietary fibre than conventional wheat and was initially developed at CSIRO in partnership with GRDC and Groupe Limagrain. The HAW technology is now commercialised globally via ARISTA Cereal Technologies and in the USA, HAW products have been brought to market through the longstanding food ingredient company Bay State Milling. This company markets HAW via its HealthSense™ high-fiber flour product. Over the past two years, the use of HealthSense™ flour has expanded rapidly in the USA and it can now be found as an ingredient in many food products including pizzas, pasta, noodles, bagels, brownies, tortillas and ice cream cones. In a recent article in the industry media outlet, Food Business News, Mr Peter F. Levangie, the President and Chief Executive Officer of Bay State Milling, discussed how the company is innovating and partnering to market healthy high-fibre food products across the USA, and in doing so, disrupting many traditional food markets.

In Australia, Australian Grain Technologies (AGT) are licensed to breed and commercialise Australian-adapted HAW varieties. Important adjustments to wheat variety classifications have recently occurred that will facilitate the future marketing of HAW in Australia. Wheat Quality Australia (WQA) is the industry body that classifies wheat varieties to meet distinct quality attributes for processors and end users. WQA has now created a new specialty wheat classification, Australian Innovative Wheat (AIW), for varieties with unique quality attributes that are not represented in existing classifications. This new AIW class is described fully on the WQA website. AIW classified wheat varieties must match the following criteria:

  1. Meet a defined market opportunity, validated by at least one customer, in a food application.
  2. Demonstrate a unique and novel quality that is not available in the main classes and that performance against this quality can be used in future classification determinations.
  3. There must be a demonstrated net benefit across the whole industry to the acceptance of a variety into the AIW class, although in the short-term this benefit may accrue to a small number of participants.

HAW varieties would fit the new AIW classification and importantly, AGT have recently announced that a forthcoming HAW variety is the first wheat to be classified as AIW. More details are available on the AGT website. Health-conscious Australian consumers watch this space.

5 September 2022: Science advances from CSIRO-BASF collaboration on wheat yield published

When the wheat plant reaches its final stage in the growing process, meaning it is dry enough and no green is showing, it is ready to be harvested.

Novel findings from a collaboration of CSIRO with BASF on wheat yield components have been published in two recent papers. A publication in Plant Cell and Environment demonstrates that changes in light quality, specifically shifts in the Red:FarRed ratio that occur deeper in a canopy, are crucially important for limiting wheat yield potential. Studies of dense mini‐canopies under controlled conditions, showed that a high Red:FarRed ratio (due to lower Far Red) during spike growth and grain filling almost doubled grain yield, probably by disrupting the perception of neighbouring wheat plants. Further investigation under field conditions will be needed but this study suggests a novel future pre-breeding approach of selecting genotypes with different sensitivity to Red and Far-Red light to improve wheat yields.

In a separate study, CSIRO and BASF teams cooperated with researchers in the UK at The University of Cambridge and the National Institute of Agricultural Botany (NIAB) to identify and functionally demonstrate a critical role for a wheat gene in determining the number of wheat spikelets per spike (SPS) in the heads of wheat. Published in Scientific Reports, the research work initially used genetic mapping in MAGIC wheat populations, an approach for locating genomic control regions of traits previously pioneered at CSIRO, to identify the gene Wheat Ortholog of APO1 (WAPO1) at a locus that controls SPS. Functional validation of this gene as a control point for SPS was achieved in transgenic plants of both low and high SPS wheat genotypes. In the future, breeding for increased SPS may increase grain yield by increasing grain number in each wheat head.

25 August 2022: Genome sequence for breeding future protein lupins

Lupins are currently an exciting area of agricultural research.

The narrow-leafed lupin (Lupinus augustifolius) has proven itself as a rotational legume crop in Western Australia and some other grain-producing regions. Its use is likely to increase in the future as its high protein content will be attractive in the growing global market for plant-based protein ingredients. In a landmark publication in The Plant Journal, Australian scientists from CSIRO, The University of Western Australia and Curtin University, together with collaborators from the USA, Denmark and China report a chromosome-length reference genome sequence for this important crop. The team also explored pan-genome variation across 55 diverse lines revealing many new features of the genetic landscape of lupins.

This new comprehensive genomic resource will boost lupin breeding programs aimed at increasing agronomic performance and product market value. More information is available on the emerging ‘Lupin Breeders Toolbox’ being developed at CSIRO.

23 August 2022: Nitrogen for nothing and your protein for free

Fertiliser use would reduce if crops required fewer applications of nitgroen.

Nitrogen is key to producing the world’s crops – but it comes at a cost. New research from CSIRO is developing future crops that produce their own fertiliser.

A new CSIRO ECOS article by Anu Mathew discusses research that is looking at developing nitrogen-fixing crops to reduce the need for fertilisers.

18 August 2022: Kebari® barley taking off in Finland

Kebari® barley is coming soon to Northern Europe.

The Finnish companies FoodFarm and GoldenMalt that specialise in healthy plant-based food and beverage products are commercialising Kebari® barley varieties in Northern Europe via strategic commercial arrangements with the Australian company The Healthy Grain and CSIRO. Kebari® barley is notable because it produces grain with ultra-low levels (<5ppm) of gluten proteins and can be used either as a malting barley for brewing or as a hull-less barley for food products. Food and beverage products that use Kebari® grain instead of either conventional barley or wheat are well suited to consumers seeking to substantially reduce their gluten intake. FoodFarm has now announced that batches of Kebari are available for commercial product development trials in Northern Europe in 2022. These Finnish companies are also part of the international companies developing BarleyMax®-based products for high fibre health foods as discussed in another recent update. Further information is available via the Foodfarm website.

13 July 2022: Diverse healthy foods using BARLEYmax® continue to expand domestically and internationally

BARLEYmax® is a versatile ingredient for a number of different types of meals.

BARLEYmax® is a novel type of barley developed at CSIRO that has extremely high levels of dietary fibre and resistant starch which are important for gut health. BARLEYmax® was developed several years ago and has been commercialised through the Australian company The Healthy Grain. Because of their important health qualities, food products containing BARLEYmax® as an ingredient have expanded to a wide range products available in major supermarkets and other outlets . You can see the recently updated domestic food product range on The Healthy Grain website.

In addition, BARLEYmax® has been available in Japan for a five years via the food company Teijin and international product and market expansion is now also progressing more broadly through key overseas agents appointed by The Healthy Grain and is trading in New Zealand, North America, the United Kingdom and the European Union. The future continues to look bright for this agri-food innovation from CSIRO.

23 June 2022: Field resistance to Fusarium crown rot and grain yield gains in new barley lines

New barley lines are showing resistance against Fusarium crown rot.

Fusarium crown rot (FCR) is an important soil and stubble-borne disease of both wheat and barley in Australia particularly in the northern grain belt and is prevalent in other semi-arid production cereal regions globally. The quantitative assessment of FCR disease is difficult because infection and symptom development are sensitive to environmental variation. Thus, screening for resistance and genetic analysis is usually undertaken in controlled growth facilities such as glasshouses but this leaves relevance to the conditions in farmer’s fields in doubt.

The Brisbane-based CSIRO team working on FCR in barley has previously demonstrated genomic regions, or quantitative trait loci (QTL), for resistance in glasshouses and had developed refined genetic material to study the impact of the QTLs on infection. Now in a GRDC-funded project, the CSIRO team as a part of a large collaborative effort with The Universities of Tasmania, Sydney and Southern Queensland as well as the Queensland Department of Agriculture and Fisheries, have shown that two of these FCR-resistance QTLs provided substantial resistance to FCR in field trials and significant increases in grain yield in paddocks where FCR is prevalent. The best new barley lines had yield increases of approximately 34 per cent over commercial varieties in FCR-infected fields. View the paper in the journal Agronomy.

20 June 2022: Super high oleic safflower oil is having an impact

SHO safflower is realising its potential.

Super high oleic (SHO) safflower was developed in a partnership between CSIRO and the GRDC and is being commercialised by the Australian and Melbourne-based ag-tech company Go Resources. A recent article in GRDC’s Groundcover has indicated that strong market demand is building for SHO safflower oil for industrial lubricant and transformer oils as substitute for palm and crude oil which are less desirable. Groundcover reports estimates that 12,000 Ha of SHO safflower will be grown in Australia next season.

The future of the primary production of SHO safflowers is likely to get a boost in Western Australia where about 3,000 Ha are expected to be planted following production trials conducted by SLR Agriculture that produced yields beyond expectations. The CEO of SLR Agriculture said on ABC Country Hour Western Australia that SHO safflowers will provide a resilient and valuable break crop for the hostile soils encountered in WA.

SHO safflower oil is not only for industrial uses and its high temperature heating characteristics are important for a new commercial cooking oil that is now available from Plenty Foods branded as ‘Heart smart safflower oil’. This product has received a favourable review from well-known nutritionist Catherine Saxelby at FoodWatch.

8 June 2022: Iain Wilson recognised as CSD 2021 Cotton Researcher of the Year

Dr Iain Wilson won the Cotton Researcher of the Year for 2021 award.

The prestigious Cotton Seed Distributors sponsored award of Cotton Researcher of the Year for 2021 was awarded to CSIRO’s Dr Iain Wilson at a recent Crop Consultants meeting in Narrabri. Iain’s award citation from the judges noted “Iain’s pivotal role in the advancement of germplasm with enhanced Verticillium Wilt resistance through the development of molecular tools employed by the CSIRO cotton breeding program”.

CEO of Cotton Australia Adam Kay said, “Iain’s work will have a real and measurable impact on farmers through his work on disease resistance which will in turn improve yields and reduce the use of chemicals so that’s a win for the economy and the environment.”

Iain noted with his usual modesty: “It’s been a team effort, working to solve interesting but important problems and there’s nothing better in science.” CSIRO at its best, congratulations Iain!

2 June 2022: Cotton research running hot off the press

Cotton breeders are busy in the lab, fields, and publishing papers.

Our cotton breeding and biotechnology team members in Narrabri and Canberra respectively have been busy getting a cluster of publications out. These papers include reviews and opinion pieces on the foundations and future of cotton breeding as well as new research results that show how genomic prediction technologies could take cotton breeding to the next level.

Genomic prediction of cotton fibre quality and yield traits using Bayesian regression methods. Published online 6 May 2022 in Heredity [PDF · 1.4MB].

Cotton Breeding in Australia: Meeting the Challenges of the 21st Century. Published online 13 May 2022 in Frontiers in Plant Science.

Core Collections: Is There Any Value for Cotton Breeding? Published online 28 April 2022 in Frontiers in Plant Science.

Synthetic biology and opportunities within agricultural crops. Published online on 16 May 2022 in the Journal of Sustainable Agriculture and Environment.

23 May 2022: New Omega-3 Canola products Aquaterra® for aquafeed and Nutriterra® for human nutrition

Omega-3 canola is now available commercially.

Omega-3 canola was developed in a partnership between CSIRO, the GRDC and Nuseed. Great progress has been reported by Nuseed, initially from North America, in the development of commercial oil products for aquafeed (Aquaterra®) and as a nutritional supplement for human health (Nutriterra®) So far, all safety, stewardship and regulatory steps have been passed and market outcomes are beginning to be realised. The latest information is available on the Nuseed website.

20 April 2022: Using structural biology to understand and engineer plant immunity

A crystal structure of a protein involved in pathogen virulence (from wheat stem rust).

Insight into how plant pathogens cause disease and how plants recognise and respond to these pathogens is being investigated from a structural biology perspective in a collaboration between CSIRO and Australian National University researchers. In a recent discussion paper in Current Opinion in Plant Biology the researchers reviewed the recent advances in the field and highlighted future opportunities and directions for engineering designer resistance proteins to provide more durable disease resistance in crops.

12 April 2022: CSIRO’s High Amylose Wheats proving their worth

High amylose wheat has been proven to be a healthy option.

Two recent publications discuss and substantiate the beneficial gut health properties of food products from the high amylose wheats initially developed at CSIRO in partnership with GRDC and Groupe Limagrain. These wheats are now commercialised globally via Arista Cereal Technologies with Australian Grain Technologies licensed to breed varieties for the Australian market. CSIRO Health and Biosecurity scientists Damien Belobradjic and Tony Bird feature as co-authors in these respective papers in Frontiers in Public Health and The Journal of Nutrition. More information on future delivery in Australian Grain Technologies.

6 April 2022: Tackling an intractable pathogen in chickpeas

We are studying genetic resistance against the sclerotinia rot pathogen in chickpeas.

The devastating sclerotinia rot pathogen has a wide host range including important pulses and oilseeds and host resistance is difficult to identify and develop further in crop breeding programs. A collaborative publication in Functional Plant Biology involving CSIRO, Curtin University and the University of Adelaide, partly supported by the GRDC, reports on a genetic analysis of quantitative resistance in chickpeas and the location of genomic resistance loci for breeding applications.

28 March 2022: Keeping wheat upright

We have tested wheat against lodging.

Lodging in wheat can have a substantial impact on final grain yield.

In a recent publication in Theoretical and Applied Genetics [PDF · 3.6MB] a GRDC-funded collaboration involving CSIRO, Agriculture Victoria Research and Queensland Department of Agriculture and Fisheries reports on low-lodging high-yielding wheat germplasm and the tagging of novel alleles for lodging.

25 March 2022: 60 years of CSIRO's research celebrated by Australian Journal of Grape and Wine Research

CSIRO has a long and continuing history in grape research.

A compendium of 11 research articles from CSIRO researchers comprises a 2022 special issue of the Australian Journal of Grape and Wine Research to celebrate 60 years of CSIRO’s engagement with the nation’s grape and wine industries. CSIRO’s research, usually in partnership with Wine Australia and a range of collaborators, has resulted in many new grapevine varieties, rootstocks and farming practices, all underpinned by science excellence. Read the Forward to the special issue authored by CSIRO's Paul Boss and Michiel van Lookeren Campagne.

15 March 2022: New Soybean variety Gwydir released

Gwydir is a new variety of soybean.

The soybean breeding collaboration of CSIRO, NSW DPI and GRDC has led to the recent commercial release of the new high protein soybean variety Gwydir that is well adapted to the Northern NSW production regions. Grain from Gwydir is suited for the human food and crushing markets.

Soybeans and other pulses form an important part of CSIRO’s Future Protein strategy to meet the projected growing global demand for diverse protein supplies. Gwydir is being commercialised by Soy Australia.

11 March 2022: Future-proofing wheat for climate change

Deeper sowing with long coleoptile wheats provides access to soil moisture.

Long coleoptile wheats, that can be sown into deep moist soil layers, show tremendous promise for yield improvement in the hotter dry conditions expected in future climates. In a recent paper in Nature Climate Change CSIRO teams in crop breeding and farming systems have worked together and put a dollar value on the potential future benefits of the long coleoptile trait. They estimate that wheat varieties with longer coleoptiles would increase farmers’ profits by a staggering average of $2.3-2.4b/year total annually across Australia. More information in an associated CSIRO ECOS article.

11 March 2022: Fishing for introgressed chromosomes in complex polyploid genomes

New research has found genes for stress tolerance in sugarcane.

A new paper in Theoretical and Applied Genetics [PDF · 1.4MB] from scientists of CSIRO, Sugar Research Australia and the USA Hudson Alpha Institute for Biotechnology demonstrates a novel method to isolate an individual chromosome from a highly complex genome for sequencing analysis. They isolate and sequenced an Erianthus chromosome from an inter-generic introgression hybrid with sugarcane which has >100 chromosomes. The Erianthus chromosome carries many candidate genes for stress tolerance.

12 October 2021: Awn-less dual-purpose wheat varieties reduce frost risk for growers

New varieties of awn-less dual-purpose wheat have been released.

Two new wheat varieties were recently released for 2022 planting by Longreach Plant Breeders that were derived from wheat lines selected at CSIRO. The new wheat varieties LPB Dale and LPB Dual can produce milling quality grain but because they are awn-less they can safely be used for animal feed if grain production has been compromised by frost. Variety details are available at the Longreach Plant Breeders website and further background information is in a media article by Grain Central.

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