Tuesday, June 18, 2024

Hort Innovation teams up with international scientists for variety development

Australian scientists will collaborate with their global counterparts to make it “quicker and easier” to develop various fruit varieties for Australian growers and consumers.

Delivered through Hort Innovation and led by Murdoch University, the recently signed $13 million international research collaboration will develop, test and deploy cutting-edge technology to improve crop genetics with a view to increasing yield, quality, taste and climate resilience.

The program will draw on genetic resources and genomics expertise from researchers in Australia, Bangladesh, China, Czech Republic, France, Sweden, Thailand and the US. It will focus on the development of new banana, custard apple, papaya, passionfruit and pineapple varieties.

Hort Innovation CEO officer Brett Fifield says faster, more efficient variety development is the aim of the initiative.

“This investment reflects a renewed impetus by Hort Innovation to seek out the best science in the world to help growers here in Australia,” he says.

“New fruit varieties that meet the needs of consumers and require less input costs for growers are a win-win.”

Murdoch University professor Rajeev K Varshney FRS says that the prospect of employing world-class research to accelerate genetic improvements is exciting.

“Through collaborating with this network of partners, we have the opportunity to reimagine traditional crop breeding programs while greatly expanding the genetic resources available and reducing the time it takes to develop new varieties for the market,” he says.

“This project has a focus on crops that have challenging and complex genomic backgrounds. Grower variety requirements are not easily met through traditional breeding approaches, and crops where global under-investment in genomics has hindered productivity gains.”

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