Crop and Pasture Science Crop and Pasture Science Society
Plant sciences, sustainable farming systems and food quality
Crop and Pasture Science

Crop and Pasture Science

Volume 64 Number 3 2013

Improved PUE will become increasingly important in future as farmers strive to achieve higher levels of productivity and maintain profitable enterprises in the face of increasing fertiliser prices. Progress has been hampered by the complexity of soil-plant interactions, incomplete understanding of the genetic control of PUE and its underlying physiological and molecular basis, as well as a lack of a consistent conceptual understanding of PUE. The current status of genetic improvement of PUE is reviewed, and future work is urged to place greater consideration on realistic field scenarios, which will require heightened cross-discipline interaction.

This article reviews current knowledge over the threat posed by virus diseases of perennial legumes to the pasture feed-base of Australian wool, meat and dairy industries, and identifies many critical research and development gaps that need addressing. Research on virus diseases of perennial temperate/Mediterranean pastures has focussed only on lucerne and white clover in which virus infection is widespread and significant losses occur. Research on virus diseases of perennial tropical/subtropical pasture legumes is more deficient being limited to virus identification studies.

This article reviews current knowledge over the threat posed by virus diseases of pasture grasses to the feed-base of Australia’s wool, meat and dairy industries, and identifies many critical research and development gaps that need addressing. Research on virus diseases of temperate/Mediterranean pastures has revealed that infection is widespread and serious virus-induced losses sometimes occur. However, research on grass viruses within tropical/subtropical pasture has focused almost entirely on virus characterisation, and information on occurrence, losses and management is lacking.

The ability of a given genotype to produce different phenotypes (e.g. higher or lower yielding crop) depending on the environment is termed phenotypic plasticity. Here we show that the phenotypic plasticity of wheat yield is closely associated with the plasticity of ear number. The pre-flowering period when ear number is established is the most significant for the determination of wheat yield.

CP12392Candidate gene-based association genetics analysis of herbage quality traits in perennial ryegrass (Lolium perenne L.)

L. W. Pembleton, J. Wang, N. O. I. Cogan, J. E. Pryce, G. Ye, C. K. Bandaranayake, M. L. Hand, R. C. Baillie, M. C. Drayton, K. Lawless, S. Erb, M. P. Dobrowolski, T. I. Sawbridge, G. C. Spangenberg, K. F. Smith and J. W. Forster
pp. 244-253

Herbage quality is a key target trait for breeding improvement of ryegrasses as pasture species. DNA sequence variation has been determined in a group of genes controlling physiological processes associated with nutritive quality, such as cell wall synthesis and sugar metabolism. Comparison with variability for quality characteristics values revealed significant correlations for a sub-set of genes, consistent with knowledge of grass physiology. The results provide the basis for design of strategies for implementing genetic marker-based selection in forage improvement.

CP13049Differential performance of two forage species, Medicago truncatula and Sulla carnosa, under water-deficit stress and recovery

Aida Rouached, Inès Slama, Walid Zorrig, Asma Jdey, Caroline Cukier, Mokded Rabhi, Ons Talbi, Anis Mohamed Limami and Chedly Abdelly
pp. 254-264

In arid and semi-arid regions of the world where large areas are salinised and/or dried, increasing the yield of forage and grain legumes becomes a priority to cover economical requirements. Two annual legumes with fodder potential, Sulla carnosa and Medicago truncatula, were subjected to water deficit and re-watered in an attempt to simulate natural conditions. Several physiological and biochemical parameters were associated with the tolerance to water-deficit stress in the studied species.

We searched for pasture plant characteristics that had the potential to help farmers reduce leaching while maintaining production.  Plants that had a more prostrate growth habit were highly effective for those purposes and plants that had deeper rooting systems or that were more resistant to water stress were moderately effective.  While the characteristics should be investigated further, they show promise for achieving improved production while reducing leaching if included in a breeding program.

Salt-affected land varies spatially and temporally and success in determining productive potential has been limited. This paper asked whether species growing on saltland can be used as saltland capability ‘indicators’, and recorded species locations across saltland transects in Western Australia, relating their location to soil salinity and depth to watertable. Native and naturalised plants were found to be a powerful tool, used in combination with depth to watertable, to predict saltland capability and thus the potential production of salt-affected land.

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