$3.4 million to beat Russian wheat aphid threat

October 31, 2008

A Murdoch University-led study will receive a total of $3.4 million to research cereal strains resistant to the devastating Russian wheat aphid, which has invaded all major wheat growing areas of the world except Australia.

With $1.4 million from the Grains Research and Development Corporation, and $2 million from project collaborators, this research aims to prevent this aphid from threatening Australia’s grains industry, which would potentially cause wheat crop yield losses of up to 70 per cent and even higher losses in barley.

Murdoch’s Associate Professor Dr Cakir, who is heading the WA State Agricultural Biotechnology Centre study, said the aphid was currently kept out of Australia by rigid quarantine efforts.

“This significant insect pest of wheat and barley already affects cereal growing areas of the USA, South Africa, Kenya, Ethiopia and parts of South America, Europe and Asia,” Dr Cakir said.

“In fact it’s now present in all major wheat and barley growing areas of the world except Australia.”

Murdoch’s research team will collaborate with researchers from Australia and around the world to trial the resistant plants.

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