Recent reciprocal visits between the University of Southern Queensland’s (USQ) Crop Nematology team and Indian researchers have increased awareness of root-lesion nematodes and enabled innovative research collaboration with India.
Root-lesion nematodes, which are microscopic worm-like parasites found in soil, are emerging as a serious problem in chickpea crops in central India. They feed on plant roots and create cavities that damage the plants’ capacity to absorb water and nutrients from the soil. High populations of root-lesion nematodes can cause yield losses of up to 70 per cent in intolerant wheat and 20 per cent in chickpea crops.
The USQ team has developed diagnostic tools to better understand the extent of the problem in Australia’s northern grains region. USQ has successfully identified the plant parts with unique sources of resistance and tolerance to nematodes. These genes are being bred and adapted into Australian wheat varieties.
USQ’s research has significantly contributed to reducing the potential cost of root-lesion nematode damage to the Australian grains (wheat) industry from A$433 million to A$123 million a year. It provides growers from around the world with valuable information on which crops and varieties to grow to control build up.