The potential to add significant value to the revolution in plant breeding associated with genomic technologies is a new frontier for biology. Yield advance by genetic improvement continues to require prediction of phenotype based on genotype. Recently, molecular breeding strategies using genome wide prediction and genomic selection approaches have developed rapidly. However, their applicability to complex traits, such as crop yield, remains constrained by gene-gene and gene-environment interactions, which restrict the predictive power of statistical associations of genomic regions with phenotypic responses. Here it is argued that crop ecophysiology and functional whole plant modelling can provide an effective link between molecular and organism scales and enhance plant improvement by adding value to genetic prediction approaches. Crop physiology and modelling provide opportunities to improve breeding efficiency by either dissecting complex traits to more amenable targets for genetic prediction, or by trait evaluation via phenotypic prediction in target production regions to help prioritise effort and influence selection strategies. But this requires a transdisciplinary approach that integrates physiology and modelling into quantitative genetic improvement systems in a manner similar to what has been applied for agronomy and crop adaptation. Specific examples focused on breeding for drought adaptation are presented to highlight the concepts.

Professor Graeme Hammer

Graeme is a Professor in Crop Science and Director of the Centre for Plant Science (CPS) in the Queensland Alliance for Agriculture and Food Innovation (QAAFI) at The University of Queensland.

Centre for Plants Science, Director, Professor Graeme Hammer

He conducts research on the physiology and genetics of complex adaptive traits in field crops with a focus on water productivity in cereals. His research underpins the development of mathematical models of crop growth, development and yield that enable simulation of consequences of genetic and management manipulation of crops in specific target environments. He has played a leading role in the design and on-going development of the APSIM crop modelling platform, which is now used world-wide.
His research approach provides unique opportunities to: 
•    Aid crop management and design for enhanced production in water-limited environments
•    Enhance the utility of molecular breeding for drought adaptation, and
•    Identify avenues to cope with climate risks in field crop production.
He is a Fellow of the Australian Agriculture Institute and was awarded the Australian Medal for Agricultural Science in 2013 and Farrer Memorial Medal in 2012.

About QAAFI Science Seminar Series

Queensland Alliance for Agriculture & Food Innovation (QAAFI) has been hosting a high-profile weekly seminar series across the disciplines of agriculture, food and nutrition science since 2014. With a range of speakers from Australia and abroad, the series explores how high-impact science will significantly improve the competitiveness and sustainability of the tropical and sub-tropical food, fibre and agribusiness sectors.

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