Grain of hope

Tasmanian Country - - NEWS - KAROLIN MacGRE­GOR

QUINOA could hold the key to breed­ing salt-tol­er­ant crops, ac­cord­ing to a study.

The find­ing could prove in­stru­men­tal in long-term ef­forts to ad­dress global food se­cu­rity. The re­search, pub­lished in the jour­nal

Cell Re­search, found that quinoa, which is nat­u­rally salt-tol­er­ant, could serve as a model for de­vel­op­ing salt-tol­er­ant crops.

This could in­clude re­lated crops such as spinach and sugar beets.

Co-au­thor of the re­port is Sergey Sha­bala, from the Uni­ver­sity of Tas­ma­nia’s School of Land and Food.

Pro­fes­sor Sha­bala said in­ten­si­fi­ca­tion of agri­cul­tural pro­duc­tion and heavy ir­ri­ga­tion posed a sig­nif­i­cant chal­lenge for global food se­cu­rity.

“Un­sus­tain­able agri­cul­ture prac­tices can cause soil ero­sion and salin­ity, which stunts the growth of crops and over a long pe­riod can lead to in­fer­tile soils,” he said.

“This re­search is help­ing to ad­dress this chal­lenge by tak­ing a new ap­proach to the breed­ing of salt-tol­er­ant crops.”

Prof Sha­bala said the team had fo­cused on quinoa due to its nat­u­ral re­sis­tance to abi­otic stresses such as salin­ity, drought and low tem­per­a­tures.

“The re­mark­able salt-tol­er­ance qual­ity of quinoa can be at­trib­uted to epi­der­mal blad­der cells, which have a vol­ume around 1000 times greater of that of nor­mal epi­der­mal cells,” he said.

Re­searchers have gen­er­ated a high­qual­ity genome draft us­ing an in­bred line of a quinoa cul­ti­var.

This has pro­vided in­sights and en­abled the iden­ti­fi­ca­tion of genes in­volved in salin­ity tol­er­ance, which will pro­vide the ba­sis for molec­u­lar breed­ing in quinoa.

The re­search is a col­lab­o­ra­tion be­tween the Uni­ver­sity of Tas­ma­nia, Shang­hai Cen­tre for Plant Stress Bi­ol­ogy and the Uni­ver­sity of Wurzburg.

The pa­per is avail­able on­line www. na­­nal/vaop/ncur­rent/ full/cr2017124a.html

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Australia

© PressReader. All rights reserved.