Sorghum mutants breed crop innovation for food security

9 May 2022

A crop of half a million genetically diverse sorghum plants growing at The University of Queensland’s Gatton campus will help future-proof cereal production in a changing climate.

UQ’s Professor Robert Henry said the crop would reinvent the way producers use mutagenesis, a conventional plant breeding technique that mimicked nature.

“This crop will help breeders more quickly find genetic traits of interest as essentially it is a ‘here’s what we prepared earlier’ library of traits,” Professor Henry said. 


Robert Henry (left) Patrick Mason at the Gatton library of sorghum mutants. Photo: UQ

“Usually when mutagenesis is used, a gene of interest is found, a genetic variation induced, and the new trait is then bred over several generations.

“What this project is doing is generating and propagating half a million Australian-grown genetically diverse sorghum lines in advance and using high-throughput DNA screening tools to create a searchable library of genetic traits.”

The collaborative research effort is led by Denmark’s Carlsberg Research Laboratory, through the Semper Ardens Crops for the future – Tackling the challenges of changing climates project.

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