Biotech Updates

DIY Crop Speed Breeding to Boost Drought Research

November 21, 2018

Queensland Alliance for Agriculture and Food Innovation (QAAFI) Senior Research Fellow Dr. Lee Hickey said that plant speed breeding could be part of the solution to minimize the devastating effects of drought and climate change on crops in the future. He added that the technique can enable researchers and plant breeders to deliver more tolerant varieties of crops to farmers sooner.

Dr. Hickey said it can take up to 20 years to develop an improved variety. Speed breeding can slash this time because it allows for growing up to six plant generations in a year, instead of just one. Speed breeding works for crops such as wheat, barley, chickpea, and canola, and uses specially modified glasshouses fitted with LED lighting to grow plants under extended photoperiods – accelerating crop research and the development of more robust plant varieties through rapid crossbreeding and generation advance.

With scientists from the John Innes Centre in the United Kingdom, Dr. Hickey's group has taken the next step and developed the protocols to scale-up speed breeding to large glasshouse facilities as well as instructions on how to build your own low-cost speed breeding cabinet.

For more details, read the news release from the University of Queensland.