Pre-harvest sprouting experts to gather in Perth

September 16, 2016

Genomic research will revolutionise wheat farmingA major issue affecting Australia’s $6 billion wheat market will draw international experts to Perth next week.

The 13th International Symposium on Pre-Harvest Sprouting in Cereals will be held 18-20 September, and will address a common genetic defect in cereal grains.

This defect, where wheat or barley germinates in the ear too early, is usually triggered by wet conditions shortly before harvest. It results in a poorer quality grain.

Director of Western Barley Genetic Alliance based at Murdoch University, Professor Chengdao Li, said that about 50 percent of the global wheat crop is affected by pre-harvest sprouting to various degrees.

“Pre-harvest sprouting and late-maturity alpha-amylase (LMA) are two of the biggest grain quality defects that grain growers encounter,” said Professor Li.

“Not only does it greatly affect the global wheat crop, but reduced falling numbers caused by rain events during harvest are also serious issues for malting barley, causing downgrades and short storage life.”

“This is an international issue, with sprouting damage lowering the value of crops to growers, seed and grain merchants, millers, maltsters, bakers, other processors, and ultimately the consumer. As such it has attracted attention from researchers in many biological and non-biological disciplines.”

Pre-harvest sprouting is a genetically-based quality defect and results in the presence of alpha-amylase in otherwise sound mature grain. It can range from perhaps undetectable to severe damage on grain and is measured by the falling numbers or alpha-amylase activity.

The Symposium will discuss current findings of grain physiology, genetic pathways, trait expression and screening methods related to pre-harvest sprouting and LMA.

International keynote speakers will include Professor Roberto Benech-Arnold from the University of Buenos Aires, Professor Hiro Nonogaki from Oregon State University, Dr Jean-Philippe Ral from CSIRO; and Dr Shingo Nakamura from the Institute of Crop Science, NARO.

“We would argue that without developments, improvements and innovations to minimise the impact and occurrence of pre-sprouting and LMA, other quality-enhancing developments further down the supply chain are futile.”

The Symposium is supported by Murdoch University, Australian Export Grains Innovation Centre, Department of Agriculture and Food, Western Australia, Grains Research and Development Corporation, CSIRO, Australian Grain Technologies and Perten.

Attending delegates will come from a wide range of disciplines including seed dormancy, plant breeding, molecular genetics, biotechnology, agronomy, seed physiology, seed germination quality and malting, baking quality and end-use products.

More information can be found here.

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