Accelerating genetic gain for future crop improvement will be the focus of the 15th Australasian Plant Breeding conference, which opens in Melbourne on Monday.

Hosted by the Department of Environment and Primary Industries (DEPI) the three-day conference provides a unique opportunity to review and discuss current technologies shaping Australia’s agriculture sector.

DEPI conference organiser Tony Slater said DEPI scientists would be among those presenting the latest developments in plant breeding.

“The research to be presented will include the development and implementation of genomics and high-throughput phenomics for plant breeding in different environments and production systems,” Dr Slater said.

“DEPI scientists will highlight progress in crop development addressing bacterial blight resistance in field peas, biotic stress tolerance in pulse crops and stripe rust resistance in wheat.

“They will also be discussing transgenic perennial ryegrass and new breeding technologies for improving cereals, grain legumes and pasture grasses.

“This will be an opportunity to reflect on how these new technologies are helping to develop crop varieties that are higher-yielding, resistant to pests, diseases and drought and adaptive to different environments and growing conditions.”

Dr Slater said the conference would also promote and share the achievements of partnership projects with crop industries from neighbouring countries such as New Zealand.

“Accelerating genetic gain in crop varieties and pastures is critical for the future productivity and profitability of Australia’s food and fibre sectors,” Dr Slater said.

Former Deputy Prime Minister and current Chair of the Global Crop Diversity Trust Tim Fischer will be a guest speaker at the conference dinner and will discuss the importance of future crop development and Australia’s leadership in agriculture.

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