Taking into account the potential consequences of climate variability on crop productivity is of utmost importance in the pursuit of developing food systems that are both sustainable and resilient. Promoting the cultivation of alternative grains is the key to enhance the diversity in our diets, address micronutrient deficiencies, and decrease the demand for agricultural water, fertilizers, and pesticides, thus necessitating a substantial shift from relying on staple cereals to embracing highly adaptive millets.  However, it is important to note that despite their agricultural potential, millets currently exhibit lower yields compared to conventional cereals, and their production is hindered by the incomplete selection of crucial domestication traits like lodging, seed shattering, and seed size. Rahul's PhD research, supervised by Prof. Robert Henry, focuses on the genome analysis of channel millet (Echinochloa turneriana) for its de novo domestication. Channel millet is among the potential agricultural indigenous wild species native to the arid channel region of inland Australia. Through sequencing of Echinochloa turneriana and resequencing of other minor millets, valuable insights can be gained into the genetic diversity, phylogenetic relationships, and the identification of favourable traits to determine options for rapid domestication. Selected candidate traits may be subjected to editing to progress domestication. This project will define and test a pathway to develop climate-adapted crops for the future.

Areas of research