Vic researchers unlock genetic secrets of phalaris

Vic researchers unlock genetic secrets of phalaris

Sheepmeat
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Work by Victorian scientists has unlocked valuable information about the genetic make-up of the important pasture species phalaris.

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Noel Cogan, Agriculture Victoria, working on unlocking the phalaris genome.

Noel Cogan, Agriculture Victoria, working on unlocking the phalaris genome.

AUSTRALIAN pastoralists are set to benefit from cutting edge research work done by Agriculture Victoria in creating the world's first genomic reference for phalaris.

Phalaris is a valuable winter dominant grass that provides good levels of feed through autumn and winter in particular.

With concerns about climate change, phalaris also has a strong advantage through its ability to tolerate high temperatures over summer months.

It is renowned for its persistence and its ability to support high levels of animals, but until now little has been known about its genetic make-up.

Similar to other grasses, such as wheat, phalaris has a complex genome.

Agriculture Victoria research scientists generated DNA sequences for more than 56,000 genes from the Phalaris genome using its next generation sequencing and advanced scientific computing capabilities leading to over half a million individual DNA markers, including ones that control important traits such as yield, persistence and seed retention.

Agriculture Victoria research scientist Noel Cogan said the research would enable pasture breeders to develop elite pasture varieties using genomic selection.

"This research provides the basis for a genomic breeding program in phalaris that can create superior varieties for Australia's red meat industry," Dr Cogan said.

"We have set the scene for phalaris to join the ranks of other key livestock and plant species, like perennial ryegrass, that are experiencing significant rates of genetic gain and improvements," he said.

Dr Cogan said this research could be used to future-proof Victoria's red meat industry in a changing climate.

"Phalaris could become hugely valuable due to its persistence and ability to adapt to hotter temperatures," he said.

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