New genomic research to future-proof pasture grasses
27 November 2019
Australia’s red meat industry is set to benefit from new pasture grass research focused on increasing its production and profitability and helping to safeguard it in a changing climate.
Agriculture Victoria research scientists have generated the world’s first genomic reference for the pasture grass Phalaris, a perennial grass commonly used in Australia’s red meat industry because it is persistent and supports high levels of animal production.
Until now very little has been known about the genetic makeup of Phalaris, partly due to its complexity, and this has limited its genetic improvement.
Agriculture Victoria research scientists generated DNA sequences for more than 56,000 genes from the Phalaris genome using its next generation sequencing and advanced scientific computing capabilities.
Within the Phalaris genes more than half a million individual DNA markers were identified, including those than control important traits such as yield, persistence and seed retention.
Agriculture Victoria research scientist Dr Noel Cogan said the research enabled pasture breeders and industry to develop elite pasture varieties using genomic selection.
“This research provides the basis for a genomic breeding program in Phalaris that can create superior varieties for Australia’s red meat industry,” Dr Cogan said.
“We have set the scene for Phalaris to join the ranks of other key livestock and plant species, like perennial ryegrass, that are experiencing significant rates of genetic gain and improvements.”
Dr Cogan said this research could be used to future-proof Victoria’s red meat industry in a changing climate.
“Phalaris could become hugely valuable due to its persistence and ability to adapt to hotter temperatures.
“In what is by far the largest contribution to genomic research in Phalaris in the world, our research has set the basis for a modern Phalaris breeding program using genomic selection approaches – it is now for industry to take the next step.”
Agriculture Victoria conducted this research at AgriBio, the Centre for AgriBioscience in Victoria – Australia’s premier state-of-the-art agribioscience facility.
This research was a collaboration between Agriculture Victoria, the University of Melbourne and the CSIRO.
Contact Name: Lindsey Martin
Contact Number: 0437 103 932
Categorised under: Agriculture,Research