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Ongoing project

Building an advanced genomics platform for Australian horticulture (AS21006)

Key research provider: Murdoch University

What is it all about?

This investment is accelerating genetic improvements in banana, custard apple, papaya, passionfruit, and pineapple by deploying cutting-edge technology that greatly expands the genetic resources available and reduces the timelines typical of traditional crop breeding programs.

Advances in genomics have led to the generation of methods, including whole genome sequences, genotypes, diversity, and allele mining, that improve the capacity and accuracy of desirable trait selection. To remain competitive in international markets, the Australian industry needs a significant boost in the current rate of genetic improvement of horticulture crops. 

A collaboration of top Australian and international genomic research and development experts will deliver the program, with a focus on crops that have challenging and complex genomic backgrounds, grower variety requirements not easily met through traditional breeding approaches, and crops where global under-investment in genomics has hindered productivity gains.

The research team will establish chromosome-length genome assemblies of two leading Australian varieties, and one closely related wild species accession for each of the five crops. Information on allelic variations, haplotypes, and gene-phenotype relationships will be generated to support the rapid breeding of elite cultivars.

Furthermore, the project will provide tailored and cost-efficient genotyping platforms to suit the diverse needs of the horticultural sector, including research and breeding applications and biosecurity. For instance, the genotyping platforms and database will be helpful for the deployment of marker-assisted selection, genomic prediction for enhancing crop yield, climate resilience traits, fruit quality and breeding for resistance.

Some international collaborators have agreed to share the DNAs of the elite cultivars from their countries for genetic diversity analysis. This will help the Australian horticulture industry identify and procure the germplasm containing superior alleles from partnering countries that are needed in Australian germplasm repositories and breeding programs.