Theme 1 - Identify and develop grain legumes for increased resilience to abiotic stress
Grain legumes face challenges to production through environmental instability linked with variable and changing climates. In Australia, those challenges are most frequently extremes in seasonal temperatures (including frosts, heat waves), extended drought, and even flooding. Drought can also influence the impact of soil salinity, a problem common in many low-rainfall regions of Australia. Individually or in combination, these stresses reduce growth and yield and can severely reduce grower profitability. Current grain legume varieties are often less tolerant of environmental extremes than those of major cereals, resulting in variable and lower yields and qualities across the rotational production cycle. The impact of these stresses on N2-fixation, a major underlying benefit of legume rotation, are poorly understood and frequently underestimated when evaluating multi-season crop performance.
Managing such risks requires the development of improved germplasm. Theme 1 will specifically address how chickpea responds to these abiotic stresses using a combination of physiological, metabolic and genetic trait identification. New insights will allow targeted trait development and germplasm improvement.