Sorghum and the legume cowpea were domesticated in Africa. They are subsistence crops for smallholder farmers. Access to high yielding, quality seed is essential for smallholder income. Hybrids provide higher seed yields and are often more disease resistant. However, hybrid seed can’t be saved and seed needs to be remade each year. Sexual reproduction drives trait segregation and breaks up the yield charateristics. Hybrid seed is technically difficult to produce thus costs are out of reach for smallholders. Hy-Gain, a project funded in part by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation aims to deploy apomixis or asexual seed formation technologies so hybrid seed can be saved. This could be deployed to speeding delivery of new varieties. This talk focuses on progress made to induce synthetic apomixis in sorghum in a prior project phase called Capturing Heterosis and will highlight partners and forward work in Hy-Gain.

Professor Anna Koltunow

Prof Anna Koltunow’s research is focused on uncovering molecular and genetic mechanisms regulating fruit and seed formation via sexual and asexual pathways to increase yield and quality. She leads the Hy-Gain project funded in part by the Bill and Melinda Gates foundation. Hy-Gain involves six other international partners. Hy-Gain aims, in the long term, to develop self-reproducing sorghum and cowpea hybrids where high yielding seeds can be economically saved by smallholder farmers in sub-Saharan Africa without loss of yield or quality. A Fellow of the Australian Academy of Science and the Academy of Technical Science and Engineering she also works to support science initiatives and training of young scientists in Agricultural research.

Professor Anna Koltunow, Professorial Research Fellow
Centre for Crop Science, Queensland Alliance for Agriculture and Food Innovation

E: a.koltunow@uq.edu.au T: +61 7 336 51876

For any questions, please contact the QAAFI Science Seminar Committee.

About Science Seminars

Queensland Alliance for Agriculture and Food Innovation hosts science seminars across the disciplines of animal, horticulture, crop, food and nutritional sciences.

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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The Queensland Alliance for Agriculture and Food Innovation is a research institute at The University of Queensland supported by the Queensland Government via the Queensland Department of Agriculture and Fisheries.