National pineapple breeding and evaluation program (PI17000)
What’s it all about?
Contracted in August 2018, this investment is working towards the release of new pineapple varieties suited to Australia’s key pineapple growing regions. There is a focus on developing and evaluating high-yielding varieties with improved disease resistance and flowering control, as well improved fruit consistency and quality, to meet the needs of both growers and consumers.
The program is looking at the industry’s main commercial varieties and advanced varieties developed through previous breeding work, while implementing a novel approach to pineapple breeding – utilising a low level of in-breeding – to develop new elite lines.
Performance data for the new varieties, and varieties produced under previous industry investments, will also be produced and delivered to industry.
Over the past year, the project team has progressed its work, with all pollinations now complete and more than 35,000 seedlings developed.
Approximately 32,700 seedlings were planted across four of the five main growing regions and have now been harvested at Glasshouse Mountains, Beerwah, Elimbah and Far North Queensland locations. Fields are currently being harvested at Maryborough and a second Elimbah site. A new field of 1,000 plants was recently established at Bundaberg.
Improvements are being made in fruit size, total soluble solids (TSS), and slip and fruit stem reduction. Arrangements are underway to commence tests on a range of varieties for resistance to Dickeya sp in the Northern Territory.
Evaluation of seedling trials and multiplication of selections are the team’s priorities going forward. Results will continue to be shared with industry as the program progresses.
The seedling population has now been established, with over 15,000 planted across four farms to bring total numbers to more than 25,000 seedlings. Planting sites include approximately 8,000 seedlings across two sites at Beerwah and Glasshouse Mountains in south east Queensland, 4,000 in the Wide Bay region (Maryborough) and 4,400 in Tar North Queensland (Townsville) district.
Pathogen testing has been conducted on thirty varieties representing a broad range of genetics from wild to modern, domesticated. Trials were established at the Department of Agriculture and Fisheries Mareeba site to investigate the recently discovered bacterial pathogen, Dickeya sp. Further testing is required using the Northern Territory strain of Dickeya which is more genetically similar to virulent overseas isolates.
Molecular markers associated with root disease are being identified. Comprehensive analysis on previously generated data has identified candidate genes associated with resistance to the root pathogen Phytophthora cinnamomi. Several other potential genes have been identified for further validation tests.
Discussions were held with growers about the project’s progress with industry groups in Townsville and Maryborough. A field presentation was also given to all growers at the Annual Pineapple Field Day in August 2018.
Further updates will be provided to industry as research continues.
This project is a strategic levy investment in the Hort Innovation Pineapple Fund.