THE MANAGER of the Australian Grains Genebank said she expects Australian wild relatives of common crop species to be incorporated in commercially available varieties within 10-15 years.
“It’s a bit tricky as working with secondary and tertiary relations of the cultivated crops can take time but plant breeders are using genetic material from wild relatives found in Australia and I think they will develop varieties using material found in these plants,” Dr Norton said.
She said in the AGG facility in Horsham, Victoria, there were collections of wild relatives of crops such as sorghum, rice and mung beans and to a lesser extent pigeon peas.
“All the major grain crops we grow in Australia are not native to here, but there are wild relatives that are and these plants may have specific genetic traits that allow them to grow well in our climate.”
“These cousins of the cultivated crops have a lot of diversity in their genetic material which is of interest to breeders.
“We do have some species which are primary relations, which are a lot easier for breeders to work with, but there are also the secondary and tertiary relations, which will require more work but hold valuable material.”
The AGG facility holds 32 endemic Australian wild relatives to cultivated crops in its collection.