Helping Sorghum Survive Drought; Joint Qld-India Initiative Underway

Article excerpt

HERMITAGE Research Station scientist Andrew Borrell visited the International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT) in Hyderabad, India, to launch a new initiative aimed at developing drought-adapted sorghum for Queensland and India.

Doctor Borrell made the trip with Queensland Primary Industries (QPI) Toowoomba's Greg McLean and the University of Queensland's Professor Graeme Hammer.

The project was funded by the Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research. Collaborators were the Indian National Research Centre for Sorghum, the University of Queensland and QPI.

The trio participated in a planning workshop with Indian scientists and studied a new lysimetry facility where detailed measurements of plant water status could be conducted on thousands of plants.

"This facility is probably the only place in the world where detailed measurements of plant water status can be conducted on large populations," Dr Borrell said.

Access to this facility will enable us to screen complete fine-mapping populations of Queensland material.

For dry season (Rabi) sorghum in India, genetically improving the efficiency of using stored soil moisture is a prime focus of the new project. The overall aim is to increase grain/stover production and quality.

"A step towards this goal has recently been obtained by developing early generation marker-assisted selection products having six different stay-green quantitative trait loci (QTL)," Dr Borrell said. …