Tag Archives: Mike Wilkinson

Bold new era for Australian barley breeding

This story was orginally posted in News from the University of Adelaide, Monday, 19 August, 2013

The University of Adelaide will invest more than $10 million over the next five years in its barley breeding program, promising long-term benefit for farmers with better and faster new varieties. Over time, the University will be looking to strengthen and expand sections of the program with investments from other parties.

The investment – including barley breeding royalties – is the result of constructive negotiations between the University and the Grains Research and Development Corporation (GRDC) to ensure that the end of the GRDC’s long-term investment in the University’s barley breeding program carries positive benefits to grains growers and to the grains industry more broadly.

“The University’s barley breeding program is the largest and most successful in Australia, and this agreement will help ensure continued delivery of high-performing barley varieties that offer even greater benefits for Australia’s barley growers,” says Waite Research Institute Director and Head of the School of Agriculture, Food and Wine, Professor Mike Wilkinson.

“This investment will help us build on current research strengths to bring the latest cutting-edge science into our barley breeding efforts. Our fundamental aim is to achieve step changes in barley variety improvement.”

“Our new barley breeding centre will be more closely linked with our teaching programs with more emphasis on educating the plant breeders and agricultural scientists of the future.”

Since the launch in 1968 of the hugely successful barley Clipper, University of Adelaide-bred varieties have accounted for more than 50% of national barley production.

Barley breeding targets have included each major production and market segment including notable feed varieties Galleon, Barque, Maritime, Fleet and Fathom, as well as leading malting varieties Schooner, Sloop, SloopSA, Flagship, Commander and this year’s new commercial variety Navigator.

Hulless varieties for use in food manufacturing and specialist animal feed applications include Torrens, Macumba and Finniss.

“The University of Adelaide’s barley breeding program is recognised internationally,” says Professor Wilkinson. “With improved breeding technologies and more research, both barley growers and the barley-consuming industry will be winners.”

New partnership for Radio Adelaide and the University of Adelaide’s Waite Research Institute

Harvest version 3

What we eat and drink, how it’s grown, and how science and innovation can help meet the challenges of food quality and security – this is the focus of Harvest; a new partnership between Radio Adelaide and the University of Adelaide‘s Waite Research Institute.

The radio program will feature research and topical issues related to agriculture, food and wine and will be broadcast on Radio Adelaide from Wednesday the 7th of August each week from 3.00pm-4.00pm South Australian time.

Radio Adelaide’s General Manager Deborah Welch said that the partnership is in line with Radio Adelaide’s long history of supporting life-long learning and using a variety of platforms and technologies. “We deliver an audience of enquiring minds from all walks of life to the University of Adelaide, and by extension to the Waite Campus” she said. “Our listeners are curious people who are looking for more information about their world. They are interested in social issues and influencing decision making. And they like to eat!”

Professor Mike Wilkinson, Director of the Waite Research Institute said that the partnership provides a unique opportunity to engage the community in the issues in food production. “Producing a radio program gives us the opportunity to present our research in a way that is personally relevant to the listener, and by working with Radio Adelaide, we are going to reach a much larger and more diverse audience than we ever could alone. Whether you are from the city or the country, food production, quality and safety is relevant to you.”

For Radio Adelaide journalist Chris Brunner, producing Harvest is unique opportunity. “I’m interested in documentary-style radio and current affairs, and there are so many stories to tell about the work at the Waite and how it relates to the bigger agriculture, food and wine landscape” he said. “And to be able to have so many key people in one place is a journalist’s dream.”

The Waite Research Institute’s Public Engagement Officer, Dr Heather Bray will co-produce and co-host the program. “Agriculture is exciting, diverse and personal – its science you can eat. As a science communicator, I’m really looking forward to working with a journalist to present agricultural science stories in a personally relevant and engaging way.”

In addition to the program’s live audience in Adelaide, people will be able to listen to the program from all over Australia either via Radio Adelaide’s live stream or podcasts at radio.adelaide.edu.au/program/harvest. Podcasts will also be available through iTunes.

Harvest will also use Twitter and Facebook to interact with the audience. Links to podcasts will also be shared here on the Waite Research Institute’s blog as well as the WRI Twitter channel and Facebook page.

 

Getting a good look at the Waite Campus

This story was orginally posted in News from the University of Adelaide, Wednesday, 10 July 2013

Visitors to the University of Adelaide’s Waite Campus will have the opportunity for a unique view of the campus as part of a Waite Information Day on Sunday 21 July.

A limited number of free helicopter rides over the campus are being offered along with information talks, tours of teaching and research facilities and hands-on activities.

The University’s School of Agriculture, Food and Wine is based at the Waite Campus at Urrbrae and offers three undergraduate degrees: Agricultural Sciences, Viticulture and Oenology, and Food and Nutrition Science.

On Sunday 21 July, there will be two information sessions – at 10am and 1pm. Prospective students and their parents will have an opportunity to speak with academic staff and current students about specific areas of study, the nature of the degrees and career opportunities.

Campus tours include the Plant Accelerator, the Wine Science Laboratory and the Sensory Evaluation teaching laboratories and visitors can take part in hands-on learning experiences such as simple laboratory analyses and sensory evaluation.

Head of the School of Agriculture, Food and Wine Professor Mike Wilkinson says: There are tremendous opportunities for careers in these fields and our graduates are in great demand.

“We encourage all those interested to come and hear from academic staff about what the degrees cover and where they may lead and to see the fantastic facilities and learning environment of the Waite Campus. It will be an enjoyable day with plenty to see and do.”

All those wishing to attend need to register at https://agwine.adelaide.edu.au/news_events/infosessions/. The five minute helicopter tours will be subject to weather conditions and are only open to those who register early

 

Waite successes in lastest ARC Discovery Project round

The results of the lastest Australian Research Council Discovery Project round were announced yesterday by Science and Research Minister Senator Chris Evans and it was good news for Waite researchers Matt Gilliham, Vlad Jiranek, Mike Wilkinson and colleagues. The Waite Research Institute would like to congratulate all grant recipients.

Dr Matt Gilliham and his team have been awarded $420,000 over three years to study the molecular basis of gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) signalling in plants. This work is significant because GABA regulates proteins that release molecules involved in root-soil interactions, growth, and fertilisation. The project’s discoveries will allow improvement of these agronomic traits that ultimately determine crop yield.

 

Associate Professor Vladimir Jiranek and collegues have been awarded $477,000 over three years to study known and novel signalling molecules that allow communication between yeast cells and impact on wine fermentation dynamics, specifically in a nutrient-depleted environment. The mechanisms by which these molecules exert their effect will be defined using a systems biology approach that integrates many analyses and data sets.

 

 

Head of the School of Agriculture, Food and Wine, Professor Mike Wilkinson and collegues have been awarded $443,000 over three years to study wheat evolution using ancient DNA. The domestication of wild grasses by farmers was a step change in human history; it led to the emergence of modern cereals and with them, western civilisation. This project will apply modern DNA sequencing methods to 5000-year-old cereal seeds to reconstruct the history of wheat, barley and other crops, and identify lost ancient forms and diversity.