October 9, 2013
A new $2.5 million alliance between the NSW Government and the Grains Research and
Development Corporation (GRDC) is set to develop new chickpea varieties with improved
disease resistance, Minister for Primary Industries, Katrina Hodgkinson, said today.
Ms Hodgkinson said plant diseases are estimated to cause an annual loss of $24 million to the
Australian chickpea industry and that the new research will investigate ways to mitigate the
impact of Phytophthora root rot in particular.
“Phytophthora root rot occurs throughout north-eastern Australia and is by far the most
destructive, costing growers
on average $8.2m each year,” Ms Hodgkinson said.
“The Department of Primary Industries (DPI) will lead the five-year chickpea research project to
develop new disease resistant chickpea breeding material that will result in new varieties.
“Currently all chickpea varieties can suffer yield loss under conditions highly favourable to
Phytophthora root rot so this research will greatly benefit chickpea growers.
“The NSW Government, with GRDC and our research partners, will collaboratively invest $2.5
million into this valuable research to provide Australian growers with a profitable,
sustainable and competitive chickpea production.”
Ms Hodgkinson said DPI chickpea breeder, Dr Kristy Hobson,
and DPI senior plant pathologist, Dr Kevin Moore, who are both based in Tamworth, will conduct extensive research in
partnership with the GRDC, Queensland Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry and
the University of Adelaide.
Dr Hobson said this research aims to mitigate the impact of Phytophthora root rot by
transferring the resistance in wild relatives of chickpeas to adapted chickpeas to provide robust
protection against the disease.
“This will mean incorporating this resistance into new chickpea varieties using innovative
breeding technologies to speed up varietal development,” Dr Hobson said.
“By expanding our knowledge of Phytophthora root rot
will ensure that the resistance breeding process is addressing pathogen variability.
“As a result we will construct improved grower guides for managing Phytophthora that will
incorporate the applied research outcomes from this project
“Phytophthora is particularly difficult to manage as it cannot be controlled with fungicides, so
once a plant is infected there is nothing a grower can do to prevent the loss of production.”