Sugar Research Australia gets plant breeding boost

Sugar Research Australia (SRA) has added expertise and capacity to its sugarcane breeding program with the appointment of experienced plant breeder, Dr Jason Eglinton.

Breeding new and improved sugarcane varieties for the Australian industry is the single biggest area of research investment that SRA makes on behalf of SRA investors, delivering varieties that are suited to local growing regions and that meet the requirements of growers and millers.

SRA CEO Mr Neil Fisher said that SRA continued to strive for innovation within its plant breeding program and to learn from other crops and industries.

“The SRA breeding program is continually seeking ways to increase efficiency in selecting for the economically important traits in sugarcane by using existing germplasm, and introgression of new traits from other germplasm,” Mr Fisher said. “Dr Eglinton’s expertise will greatly contribute to finding innovative ways to modernise and improve the breeding program through the use of modern genetic tools such as genome sequencing, molecular markers, and high throughput phenotyping.

“Dr Eglinton is based at Meringa near Cairns, which is where early-stage crossing and selection begins for creating new sugarcane varieties,” Mr Fisher said. “He will work with Dr Bert Collard, who is SRA’s Leader for Optimally Adapted Varieties, Plant Breeding and Release, and with our experienced team of plant breeders and technicians across the Australian sugarcane industry.

Dr Eglinton said he looked forward to working with the SRA plant breeding team and the Australian sugarcane industry.

“Varieties are a foundation of profitability and productivity for sugarcane growers and millers,” Dr Eglinton said. “I’m enthusiastic to work with the highly-skilled team at SRA to continue to accelerate genetic gain and deliver improvements to the Australian sugarcane industry through new varieties.”

Dr Eglinton was formerly the Barley Program Leader at the University of Adelaide, where he led the development and commercialisation of new feed and malting barley varieties.





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