Australian GeneBank established for pasture seeds

By / 2nd of December, 2014

A GENE bank for Australia’s pasture seeds is being established in Adelaide, South Australia.

The Australian Pastures Genebank will preserve more than 70,000 varieties of pastures and forage species providing valuable seed for future breeding programs.

Samples from thousands of pastures species will be preserved in a central location at the Waite Campus at Urrbrae in Adelaide – the largest agricultural research precinct in the Southern Hemisphere.

The Australian Pastures Genebank will be managed by the South Australian Research and Development Institute (SARDI), a division of Primary Industries and Regions SA (PIRSA).

The centre will be funded by the industry bodies Meat and Livestock Australia, Australian Wool Innovation, Grains Research and Development Corporation, Dairy Australia, and Rural Industries Research and Development Corporation.

SARDI scientist and gene bank curator Dr Steve Hughes said that plant diversity is critical for national and global food security.

“Such diversity helps grazing and mixed farming enterprises to adapt and remain competitive with the challenge of a changing climate or whatever other challenges the future may bring,” he said.

“The operations of the Australian Pastures Genebank will be critical to help agriculture adapt to the future and would benefit not only primary producers, but also seed companies, breeders, processers, research, education, the environment and regional farming communities.”

The initiative was announced by Australian Minister for Agriculture, Barnaby Joyce, and follows the opening of the Australian Grains Genebank at Horsham, Victoria earlier this year.

“From subterranean clover to grazing tolerant lucernes bred in South Australia, these pastures have supported our livestock and other industries for generations. Further improving yield and productivity will be essential in meeting our food and fibre demands, and helps producers bring a greater return to the farmgate,” said Minister Joyce

South Australian Agriculture, Food and Fisheries Minister Leon Bignell said it is fitting the gene bank is located at South Australia’s Plant Research Centre where South Australia’s scientists have bred some of Australia’s leading lucerne, medics and clover varieties.

“With the bulk of Australia’s $100 million-a-year lucerne seed industry now centred in the South East region of South Australia, it’s also fitting that this centre is here in this State,” he said.