Fitzgerald Biosphere Group get to the cutting edge of research

On Tuesday 28 July, a delegation of ten farmers from the Fitzgerald Biosphere Group (FBG) visited Murdoch University primary industries teaching and research facilities.

The delegation toured the WA State Agriculture Biotechnology Centre (SABC) and the University’s meat science facilities, where they were introduced to the world of molecular biology, by center Director Professor Mike Jones.

Professor Jones, outlined the different ways biotechnology is being used to tackle in crop challenges, such as the use of marker assisted breeding to screen for disease resistance, RNA interference techniques to develop nematode resistance in cereals and the use of transgenic modification to boost the nutritional value of grain.

Delegates also had to opportunity to tour the Centre’s labs, and see first had how DNA analysis and grain purity tests are conducted.

Attendees were also updated on collaborations the Centre is working on in conjunction with AEGIC and DAFWA that are looking at ways to improve the quality of wheat protein through tactical sulfur applications.

According to FBG trial coordinator Karryn Dorrell, the idea of giving growers an opportunity to see the facilities was to show them that there is a lot of work going on in the research space when it comes to plant breeding.

“It also (the tour) provided growers with an insight into some of the challenges involved in getting a trait out of the lab and into a commercial variety,” said Karryn.

The group also visited the University’s meat science laboratories and observe a bench marking “bone-out” project that was aiming to compare potential sheep carcass quality as determined by a CT scan to what was realistically attainable in a commercial abattoir setting.

The idea for the tour was based on a similar program the GGA ran in the lead up to the 2014 Annual Forum.

If you or your group would like support in developing research facility tours such as this please contact Rebecca Wallis, T: 6180 5759, E: rwallis@gga.org.au.