Murdoch University researchers lead to advance wheat nitrogen use efficiency

Murdoch University researchers lead to advance wheat nitrogen use efficiency

Australia: Murdoch University’s Centre for Crop and Food Innovation has launched a significant initiative aimed at enhancing wheat production in Australia by improving nitrogen use efficiency through cutting-edge genetic research.

The five-year Wheat Nitrogen Use Efficiency (WNUE) project, running until March 2029, addresses a key research priority of both the Grains Research and Development Corporation (GRDC) and the West Australian Agricultural Research Collaboration (WAARC). With a total investment of US$7.16 million, this project is led by Murdoch University in collaboration with the Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development, The University of Western Australia, Curtin University, and Australian Grain Technologies.

Professor Rajeev Varshney, Director of the Murdoch University Centre for Crop and Food Innovation and the WNUE Project Lead, stated that the project aims to provide growers with access to high-performing wheat cultivars that maximise yield and grain quality while minimising environmental impact.

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“Enhancing nitrogen use efficiency is crucial for maximising wheat yield, grain protein content, and ultimately, the profitability of wheat growers,” Professor Varshney said. “Currently, wheat crops use less than 40 per cent of applied nitrogen, with only 33 per cent being recovered in the grain. By collaborating with leading institutions and industry partners, we are expanding our understanding of genetic regulation in wheat and providing practical solutions for breeders to develop improved wheat varieties.”

The WNUE team will share their research findings with the broader research community and industry. Kelly Pearce, WAARC Director, noted that four applied research projects had been launched under WAARC’s Grains Transformation programme in the past eight months. Each project focuses on creating impactful and lasting benefits for growers, the grains industry, and the environment.

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“The Wheat Nitrogen Use Efficiency project exemplifies the shared vision and commitment of WAARC members, investors, and industry partners to drive innovation and transformational change in agricultural research and development in WA and beyond,” Dr. Pearce said.

Nigel Hart, Managing Director of GRDC, highlighted that GRDC continues to invest in cutting-edge, collaborative research projects aimed at delivering positive outcomes for WA growers and the broader grains industry.

“Through the WNUE project, growers will have access to improved wheat varieties with greater nitrogen use efficiency, resulting in higher yields and higher grain protein content with the same or less nitrogen inputs. The project is set to deliver new knowledge, tools, and pre-breeding material that will enhance grain growers’ profitability and improve the sustainability of wheat production in Australia,” Hart said.

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