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Crop improvement of grain sorghum in Australia: core breeding

Henzell, R.G. Dr; ph: (07) 4661 2944; fax: (07) 4661 5257;

Research organisations: Queensland Department of Primary Industries, Farming Systems Institute, MS 508, via Warwick Qld 4370; Pioneer Overseas Corporation, MS 499, Wyreema Qld 4352; Pacific Seeds, PO Box 337, Toowoomba Qld 4350


1. To enhance grain sorghum germplasm for Australian conditions;

2. To increase the level, stability and profitability of grain production by increasing levels of midge resistance, staygreen (ie drought resistance), yield per se, and disease resistance;

3. Produce dual purpose germplasm;

4. Increase feed quality;

5. Collaborate with other projects in program.

Methodology: The project involves working in a multidisciplinary team aimed at identifying traits, assessing their value, studying their inheritance/ heritability, developing selection techniques (eg molecular markers), identifying sources of the trait, enhancing and broadening the genetic base of the trait, and incorporating these traits into locally adapted materials The development of germplasm, and not cultivars is the overall aim of the project.

Because the traits under selection (the major ones being resistance to the sorghum midge and stay green are multigenic, the methodology employed involves recurrent cycles of crossing, testing and selection (including use of molecular markers for midge resistance and stay green) of new parents for crossing. The pedigree method of breeding is used for each of the characters. There are close links between this project, and the grains and seed industries. Personnel from Pacific Seeds and Pioneer Overseas are included in this project. Their role is to ensure the project aims are closely aligned with seed industry needs.


Significant progress has been made in developing germplasm combining high levels of resistance to the sorghum midge and combining that with high levels of stay green (post-flowering drought resistance). This technology has been transferred to the seed industry and then to the grains industry where it has been rapidly adopted to a high level.

Period: Starting date 1996-07; completion date 2000-06

Status: ongoing

Keywords: crop modelling; drought; genetic improvement; germplasm; insect pests; linkage map; mapping; molecular biology; nitrogen; plant breeding; plant physiology; production; project management; quality; Rflp; rust; Sorghum; transpiration; yield

Publications: None as yet

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