• Condensed by Lynda Kiernan-Stone

Salt-Tolerant Wheat Strain - Dubbed the “Golden Goose” - to Begin Field Trials

A new line of salt-tolerant bread wheat called MW293 that researchers have dubbed the “golden goose” is on pace to begin field trials in South Australia this year.

The promising strain contains genes that trace back to wild relatives, and has the ability to absorb large amounts of salt from the soil into its leaves - contradicting the traditional understanding that salt-tolerant varieties should not absorb much salt.

Development of MW293 began in 2011 when researchers in South Australia first crossed it with U.S. germplasm W4909. This ‘superline’ was then crossed a second time with Mace, producing a line that thrived in high salinity soils in a laboratory, producing twice the grain as Mace in salty soil and outperforming it under traditional soil conditions.

Analysis stunned researchers, who found sodium levels in the leaves of MW293 that were 100 times those of bread wheat varieties while also producing higher yields - countermanding the idea of sodium exclusion popular in salinity-tolerant breeding.

The field trials being conducted this year will be carried out by SARDI, the principal research institute in South Australia, by a team headed by Dr. Genc and its research partners at sites near Roseworthy and Red Hill.

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