Rice and Wheat Biotechnology for Enhanced Abiotic Stress Tolerance

pic20 (2)Rice is the world’s most important crop, being a primary staple food for more than one third of the world’s population. It is the only major cereal crop that is consumepic21 (2)d almost exclusively by humans. Our research program is focused on developing genetic transformation of Australian rice varieties and to produce male sterile lines required for hybrid seed production. We are also using rice as a model system for isolation of useful genes and promoters, which we have used in other projects. With the rising human population, enhancing crop yield poses an ultimate challenge for the global food production systems. Climate change is expected to have adverse effects on crop prpic22 (2)oductivity due to fluctuating temperatures and more frequent drought events in the coming decades. Availability of sufficient water is a fundamental restraint to crop production, and enhancing drought tolerance of crop plants is crucial for achieving greater yield stability. Plant breeding approaches have contributed significantly to optimizing water use efficiency through selecting crop plants with improved growth features, such as height and other traits. However additional improvements are required to make the needed crop yield stability during periods of drought stress. Our research aim in wheat biotechnology is to generate novel abiotic stress tolerant genotypes via introducing gene constructs that have potential to enhance drought and salt stress tolerance.