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CSIRO-UWA Crop Genomics Lab Opens

09 May 2011

AUSTRALIA - A new laboratory for research into the molecular workings of plants, and the genomes of crops, was officially launched in Perth this week.

Established jointly by CSIRO and The University of Western Australia (UWA) at CSIRO's Centre for Environment and Life Sciences in Floreat, the new state-of-the-art Laboratory for Molecular Plant Pathology and Crop Genomics will provide some of Australia's leading plant and agricultural scientists with world-class research facilities.

The laboratory hosts an internationally renowed research team lead by the head of CSIRO's Mediterranean Crops and Pastures Group, and Director of UWA's Institute of Agriculture, Professor Karam Singh.

Professor Singh's team will collaborate with its partners to provide the laboratory with a major research focus on pre-breeding better and more disease resistant legume crops in Australia. A significant portion of its work will be devoted to sequencing the narrow-leaf lupin genome.

Lupins, members of the legume family, are a valuable winter rotation crop that, in addition to fixing nitrogen in the soil, also prevent crops from being re-infected, from season to season, by several common diseases.

Lupins are also a good source of protein and dietary fibre. Through their work in the WA Centre for Food and Genomic Medicine, CSIRO scientists have already identified lupin genes which have potential benefits for humans in helping to reduce the risk of diabetes and obesity.

The laboratory houses a range of new, high-tech equipment incuding: a fluid handling robotics station, a real-time polymerase chain reaction (PCR) machine, a highly sensitive imaging system and fluorescence microscopy. It also has excellent plant monitoring facilities including temperature controlled growth rooms and a quarantine microbiology facility.

TheCropSite News Desk

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