A new $2.5 million alliance between the NSW government and the Grains Research and Development Corporation (GRDC) is set to develop new chickpea varieties with improved disease resistance, Minister for Primary Industries Katrina Hodgkinson, said.

Ms Hodgkinson said plant diseases were estimated to cause an annual loss of $24 million to the Australian chickpea industry and that the new research would investigate ways to mitigate the impact of Phytophthora root rot in particular.

“Phytophthora root rot occurs throughout north-eastern Australia and is by far the most destructive, costing growers on average $8.2m each year,” Ms Hodgkinson said.

“The Department of Primary Industries (DPI) will lead the five-year chickpea research project to develop new disease resistant chickpea breeding material that will result in new varieties.

“Currently all chickpea varieties can suffer yield loss under conditions highly favourable to Phytophthora root rot so this research will greatly benefit chickpea growers.

“The NSW government, with GRDC and our research partners, will collaboratively invest $2.5 million into this valuable research to provide Australian growers with a profitable, sustainable and competitive chickpea production.”

Ms Hodgkinson said DPI chickpea breeder Dr Kristy Hobson and DPI senior plant pathologist Dr Kevin Moore, who were both based in Tamworth, will conduct extensive research in partnership with the GRDC, Queensland Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry and the University of Adelaide.

Dr Hobson said this research aims to mitigate the impact of Phytophthora root rot by transferring the resistance in wild relatives of chickpeas to adapted chickpeas to provide robust protection against the disease.

o Work to produce disease free chickpeas is under way.

This article first appeared in Hangzhou Night Net.

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