NSW DPI canola project leader, Harsh Raman, said the department is now developing and evaluating canola germplasm from crosses made between turnip and Ethiopian mustard, and canola and Ethiopian mustard. Photo: supplied

Shatterproof gene discovery​

For the first time, scientists have mapped shatter resistant genes in Ethiopian mustard plants, which offer plant breeders an option to manage pod shatter in canola.

For the first time, scientists have mapped shatter resistant genes in Ethiopian mustard plants, which offer plant breeders an option to manage pod shatter in canola.

NSW Department of Primary Industries (DPI) researcher, Rosy Raman, said genes from the mustard, Brassica carinata, have the potential to address pod shatter in canola – a problem which can reduce yield by up to 50 per cent.

“We investigated the level of pod shatter resistance in Ethiopian mustard and identified sources which were10 times more shatter tolerant than canola,” Dr Raman said.

“In hot, dry conditions canola pods can shatter and open to release seeds before harvest, causing yield and financial loss to growers.

“Canola, Ethiopian mustard and turnip are close relatives in the Brassica family and the introduction of pod shatter resistant genes into the turnip and canola gene pool could be used to produce fertile hybrids which will contain shatter resistant genes.”

The ground-breaking research has identified five pod shatter resistant genes as part of a joint project between NSW DPI and the Grains and Research Development Corporation.

NSW DPI canola project leader, Harsh Raman, said the department is now developing and evaluating canola germplasm from crosses made between turnip and Ethiopian mustard, and canola and Ethiopian mustard.

“Several elite lines with pod shatter resistance were selected and we plan to deliver them to Australian canola breeders within the next two to three months,” Dr Raman said.

“Molecular markers linked with the genes will be used to trace the presence of

DNA segments for pod shatter resistance in the canola genome.

“In addition to lifting yields, pod-shatter resistant canola varieties would reduce the cost of chemical applications to seal pods and manage unwanted canola plants, which are weeds in subsequent crops.”

The research, which was recently published in a leading international journal Frontiers in Plant Science, https://doi.org/10.3389/fpls.2017.01765, could also improve pod shatter resistance in Ethiopian mustard crops, which are grown for use as a leafy vegetable, cooking oil and biodiesel production.

Media contact:   Bernadette York (02) 6938 1664, 0427 773 785

Would you like to comment on this article?
Thanks for providing feedback.