WHEAT varietal work at Syngenta’s Jealott’s Hill research and development facility near Berkshire, England, is speeding up the breeding process, delivering new varieties three years early.
Syngenta’s outreach manager Jim Morton walked a group of award-winning Australasian broadacre and horticultural farmers and agronomists through the double haploid wheat glasshouse recently.
At the time of the tour in late June, Mr Morton said scientists were working with winter wheat, which was almost reaching the end of the process.
“They are taking some of these lines through to harvest (cutting off and preparing material for growers), and this is supporting work of our breeders across the region including the United Kingdom, France, Russia and Germany,” Mr Morton told the group.
“Plant breeders will select parent lines and make the crosses.
“In cereals breeding from initial cross you need to do six generations of back crosses or self pollination to get the stable cross.
“It would take six seasons. You can accelerate that to perhaps four years.
“The method we use here achieves that stable line in one year, so you save three years because you have a clever trick with genetics.”
Mr Morton said double haploid science was not new, having been first used in the 1970s.
However, the scale and capability of the work at Jealott’s Hill was leading the way.
“Our breeders have a huge amount of genetic diversity and we want to get the best combinations and using this method, explode all of that and evaluate diversity in our collection,” Mr Morton said.
“Material that is in here will go back into the field.
“We are investing in capacity and technology. You can take a tissue sample from these plants and understand the genetic potential.”
Queensland Country Life journalist Lea Coghlan visited Jealott’s Hill as a guest of Syngenta.