Improving chickpea productivity by enhancing resistance to soil acidity

This project will be awarded through ANU, in partnership with NSW Department of Primary Industries.
The objective of this project is to increase chickpea productivity in acid soils by understanding the major factors restricting chickpea production at low pH and enhancing tolerance to acid soils through genetic engineering.

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Chickpea is Australia’s most significant pulse crop by value and is currently the critical break crop for cereal production in the northern grain-growing region of Australia. There is growing interest in expanding the area sown to chickpea in other regions.  However, in these areas, chickpea production is limited by the prevalence of acidic soils which contain Aluminium (Al3+) and Manganese (Mn2+) ions at concentrations that are toxic and significantly reduce crop growth and yield potential.

The objective of this project is to increase chickpea productivity in acid soils by understanding the major factors restricting chickpea production at low pH and enhancing tolerance to acid soils through genetic engineering.

A combination of genome-wide association mapping of chickpea germplasm varying in acid soil tolerance will be combined with targeted gene editing to improve acid soil tolerance. The mechanism of acid soil tolerance will be investigated by determining root exudate composition, as organic acid exudation is linked to acid tolerance, especially if this is linked to aluminium toxicity.

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Project supervisor

Ulrike Mathesius the heads up the Division of Plant Sciences at the Australian National University and leads the Mathesius Group. She is also a Chief Investigator in the ARC Training Centre for Future Crop Development.

Ulli’s research focuses on root microbe interactions and symbionts to parasites. Ulli won the 2013 Fenner Medal awarded by the ARC for research in biology (excluding the biomedical sciences) for outstanding early-career researchers under the age of 40.

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