Biotech Updates

UWA Crop Root Study to Boost Grain Production

May 11, 2012

According to researchers from The University of Western Australia (UWA), understanding the root system and function of crop plants is the "next frontier" to increase Australia's grain production, keep farms viable, and help continue to feed the world despite the onset of increasing drought and climate change.

The research team was led by UWA-based Chief Investigators Winthrop Professor Zed Rengel and Winthrop Professor Kadambot Siddique. One of their projects involves experimenting with lupin roots to improve the water use and nutrient uptake of narrow-leaf lupin varieties. To address the Australian grain producers' problems on poor local soils, harsh growing conditions, and declining rainfall, the group used new screening techniques and advanced computer modeling in studying the variability of lupin root systems.

"Our findings may be used in breeding new varieties of lupins with modified root system and function that may produce higher yields in soils with relatively limited water and nutrient resources," said Professor Zed Rengel.

More details about this study are available at