Gene editing to enhance cereal breeding

In this project, the student will gain expertise in applied and fundamental science, providing opportunities to prepare industry-relevant high-impact publications.

More about the project

This project aims to implement and validate the utility of gene editing in a commercial cereal breeding context. The project will target a key trait of interest in Australian Grain Technologies’ barley breeding program. The student will gain expertise in applied and fundamental science, providing opportunities to prepare industry-relevant high-impact publications.

Key areas of research will include:

  • Assessment and development of plant transformation across different genotypes
  • Demonstrating editing efficiency using SDN-1 and SDN-2 for a known trait of interest (single and multi-edits), including analysis of editing frequency, confirming absence of off target effects
  • Characterisation of edited plants for alterations in the trait of interest and unintended effects
  • Determining timeline and efficiency of incorporating edited plants into a commercial breeding pipeline
  • Exploration of editing a novel experimental trait of interest to the breeding program

The student on this project will learn modern biotechnology techniques, work with genetically engineered plants in greenhouse and field conditions, and spend time with an Australian breeding company.

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Project supervisor

Stuart’s research focuses on improving the yield and abiotic stress tolerance of cereals. Stuart identifies novel genes and processes by using forward genetic screens, and uses biotechnology to generate GMO and genome edited plants which are used in ‘proof of concept’ studies to determine if the modifications have enhanced the performance of the plant. Stuart then looks for non-GM solutions to deliver germplasm to breeders.

Stuart’s research spans from the lab bench, genes are cloned, to the greenhouse, where non-destructive phenotyping methods are used to characterise plant growth. Ultimately, Stuart ends up in the field, evaluating novel plant material in the environment where crops are grown.

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