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Inman-Bamber N.G.,James Cook University | Lakshmanan P.,BSES Ltd | Park S.,CSIRO
Field Crops Research | Year: 2012

In Australia water stress is estimated to cost the sugar industry an average of $260 million (AUD) per annum in lost production. With the predicted increased frequency of drought events the industry is now considering breeding for drought adaptation after water stress inflicted yield losses of more than $400 million in the years 2002-2004, in one region alone. Defining drought adaptation broadly, including both short and long periods of water stress, we took the first step in improving sugarcane for such conditions by assessing the potential benefits of a number of traits in a simulation study. The APSIM-Sugarcane model was used to simulate the biomass yield response to traits that may confer adaptation to drought in a range of climates, some extremely dry at times, and in a shallow and a deep soil. Among the traits studied, increased rooting depth resulted in 0-21% increase in mean dry biomass yield depending on the climate and soil type. This trait was more beneficial in the shallow than the deep soil which had a smaller fraction of additional stored water to offer the more vigorous root system. The simulations showed that breeding for reduced stomatal or root conductance (conductance) would increase biomass yield by about 5% only in the driest climates and better soils. Other traits which conserved water such as leaf and stalk senescence were generally unsuccessful in conferring adaptation to the water-limited production environments considered. Simulations indicated that increased transpiration efficiency (TE) at the leaf level would nearly always help to improve sugarcane biomass yields in water-limited environments if the increased TE arose from up-regulation of intrinsic water use efficiency. However if increased TE was increased through reduced conductance, which effectively reduces VPD during transpiration, yields could be reduced in high rainfall climates and shallow soils and they could increase in moderate rainfall climates and deeper soils. Thus increased rooting depth, increased intrinsic water use efficiency and to a lesser extent, reduced conductance leading to increased TE, are suggested as the best traits to consider for selection of sugarcane clones in water-limited environments in the tropics and sub-tropics. © 2012.

Goebel F.-R.,CIRAD - Agricultural Research for Development | Sallam N.,BSES Ltd
Current Opinion in Environmental Sustainability | Year: 2011

Global travel, world trade and change in climate conditions increase the risks from pest and disease incursions and outbreaks in many agricultural systems. This emphasises the vital importance of biosecurity in pest management, a set of preventive measures to reduce such risks. Sugarcane is grown in many countries worldwide and is known to host more than 1500 insects and 80 diseases, but the vast majority have restricted geographic distributions. However, the adaptability of some pests and their incursion into sugarcane areas can be surprising and very costly. Sugarcane and maize are the two main commodities already responding to the pulls of the new bioeconomy. The expansion of sugarcane regions for biofuel production changes both the biosecurity risks for movement and the local potential impacts for pest communities. Pest management strategies will need to adapt. This is equally true for managing new pest incursions as it is for agronomic practices that may lead to a shift in pest pressure and dynamics. This review considers the changes in the global sugarcane industries resulting from the new bioeconomy and the risks and required responses for managing the biosecurity threats and pest management of arthropod sugarcane pests. From historical examples, it is shown how the sugarcane biofuel production systems are threatened by economically important pests and what research is needed to implement future pest management solutions. © 2010 Elsevier B.V.

Piperidis G.,BSES Ltd | Piperidis N.,BSES Ltd | Piperidis N.,University of Queensland | D'Hont A.,CIRAD - Agricultural Research for Development
Molecular Genetics and Genomics | Year: 2010

Modern sugarcane cultivars (Saccharum spp., 2n = 100-120) are complex polyploids derived from interspecific hybridization performed a century ago between the sugar-producing species S. officinarum L. and the wild species S. spontaneum L. Using genomic in situ hybridization, we revealed that between 15 and 27.5% of the genome of modern cultivars is derived from S. spontaneum, including 10-23% of entire chromosomes from this wild species and 8-13% chromosomes derived from interspecific recombination. We confirmed the occurrence of 2n + n transmission in crosses and first backcrosses between these two species and demonstrated that this also can occur in crosses between S. officinarum and modern cultivars. We analysed five S. officinarum clones with more than 80 chromosomes and demonstrated that they were derived from interspecific hybridization supporting the classical view that this species is characterized by 2n = 80. We also illustrated the complementarities between molecular cytogenetics and genetic mapping approaches for analysing complex genomes. © 2010 Springer-Verlag.

Patrick J.W.,University of Newcastle | Botha F.C.,BSES Ltd | Birch R.G.,University of Queensland
Plant Biotechnology Journal | Year: 2013

Carbon captured through photosynthesis is transported, and sometimes stored in plants, as sugar. All organic compounds in plants trace to carbon from sugars, so sugar metabolism is highly regulated and integrated with development. Sugars stored by plants are important to humans as foods and as renewable feedstocks for industrial conversion to biofuels and biomaterials. For some purposes, sugars have advantages over polymers including starches, cellulose or storage lipids. This review considers progress and prospects in plant metabolic engineering for increased yield of endogenous sugars and for direct production of higher-value sugars and simple sugar derivatives. Opportunities are examined for enhancing export of sugars from leaves. Focus then turns to manipulation of sugar metabolism in sugar-storing sink organs such as fruits, sugarcane culms and sugarbeet tubers. Results from manipulation of suspected 'limiting' enzymes indicate a need for clearer understanding of flux control mechanisms, to achieve enhanced levels of endogenous sugars in crops that are highly selected for this trait. Outcomes from in planta conversion to novel sugars and derivatives range from severe interference with plant development to field demonstration of crops accumulating higher-value sugars at high yields. The differences depend on underlying biological factors including the effects of the novel products on endogenous metabolism, and on biotechnological fine-tuning including developmental expression and compartmentation patterns. Ultimately, osmotic activity may limit the accumulation of sugars to yields below those achievable using polymers; but results indicate the potential for increases above current commercial sugar yields, through metabolic engineering underpinned by improved understanding of plant sugar metabolism. © 2012 Society for Experimental Biology, Association of Applied Biologists and Blackwell Publishing Ltd.

Xue G.-P.,CSIRO | Way H.M.,CSIRO | Richardson T.,CSIRO | Drenth J.,CSIRO | And 2 more authors.
Molecular Plant | Year: 2011

NAC proteins are plant-specific transcription factors and enriched with members involved in plant response to drought stress. In this study, we analyzed the expression profiles of TaNAC69 in bread wheat using Affymetrix Wheat Genome Array datasets and quantitative RT-PCR. TaNAC69 expression was positively associated with wheat responses to both abiotic and biotic stresses and was closely correlated with a number of stress up-regulated genes. The functional analyses of TaNAC69 in transgenic wheat showed that TaNAC69 driven by a barley drought-inducible HvDhn4s promoter led to marked drought-inducible overexpression of TaNAC69 in the leaves and roots of transgenic lines. The HvDhn4s:TaNAC69 transgenic lines produced more shoot biomass under combined mild salt stress and water-limitation conditions, had longer root and more root biomass under polyethylene glycol-induced dehydration. Analysis of transgenic lines with constitutive overexpression of TaNAC69 showed the enhanced expression levels of several stress up-regulated genes. DNA-binding assays revealed that TaNAC69 and its rice homolog (ONAC131) were capable of binding to the promoter elements of three rice genes (chitinase, ZIM, and glyoxalase I) and an Arabidopsis glyoxalase I family gene, which are homologs of TaNAC69 up-regulated stress genes. These data suggest that TaNAC69 is involved in regulating stress up-regulated genes and wheat adaptation to drought stress. © 2011 The Author.

The greyback canegrub, Dermolepida albohirtum, is a major sugarcane pest that occurs between Mossman to Sarina in Queensland, Australia. Over a period of more than 100years, BSES Limited has conducted extensive field and laboratory studies on this pest species and information is available in several reports, articles and scientific papers. This document summarises much of the published work on D. albohirtum as well as anecdotal observations on its biology, ecology and management. D. albohirtum has an annual life cycle, and adult beetles usually lay eggs in cane crops around December-January, by which time the crop has become well advanced making pesticide application difficult. Hence, fields that require chemical treatment need to be carefully selected prior to beetle flights and egg laying. To assist in field selection, a prediction system is currently being developed to ensure that chemicals are strategically applied in areas likely to receive grub damage. Knowledge of the life cycle and population dynamics of this pest is essential in developing robust forecast systems. This document is designed to serve as a comprehensive reference for both researchers and cane growers seeking detailed information on the biology, ecology and management of this pest species. © 2010 The Author; Journal compilation © 2010 Australian Entomological Society.

Brackin R.,University of Queensland | Robinson N.,University of Queensland | Lakshmanan P.,BSES Ltd | Schmidt S.,University of Queensland
Soil Biology and Biochemistry | Year: 2013

Soil microbial communities and their activities are altered by land use change; however impacts and extent of these alterations are often unclear. We investigated the functional responses of soil microbes in agricultural soil under sugarcane and corresponding native soil under Eucalyptus forest to additions of contrasting plant litter derived from soybean, sugarcane and Eucalyptus in a microcosm system, using a suite of complimentary techniques including enzyme assays and community level physiological profiles (CLPP). Initially agricultural soil had 50% less microbial biomass and lower enzyme activities than forest soil, but significantly higher nitrification rates. In response to litter addition, microbial biomass increased up to 11-fold in agricultural soil, but only 1.8-fold in forest soil, suggesting a prevalence of rapidly proliferating 'r' and slower growing 'K' strategists in the respective soils. Litter-driven change in microbial biomass and activities were short lived, largely returning to pre-litter addition levels by day 150. Decomposition rates of sugarcane and soybean litter as estimated via CO2 production were lower in agricultural than in forest soil, but decomposition of more recalcitrant Eucalyptus litter was similar in both soils, contradicting the notion that microbial communities specialise in decomposing litter of the dominant local plant species. Enzyme activities and community level physiological profiles (CLPP) were closely correlated to microbial biomass and overall CO2 production in the agricultural soil but not the forest soil, suggesting contrasting relationships between microbial population dynamics and activity in the two soils. Activities of enzymes that break down complex biopolymers, such as protease, cellulase and phenol oxidase were similar or higher in the agricultural soil, which suggests that the production of extracellular biopolymer-degrading enzymes was not a factor limiting litter decomposition. Enzyme and CLPP analyses produced contrasting profiles of microbial activity in the two soils; however the combination of both analyses offers additional insights into the changes in microbial function and community dynamics that occur after conversion of forest to agricultural land. © 2012 Elsevier Ltd.

Haynes R.J.,University of Queensland | Belyaeva O.N.,University of Queensland | Kingston G.,BSES Ltd
Journal of Plant Nutrition and Soil Science | Year: 2013

Six inorganic industrial-waste materials (coal fly ash, bauxite-processing mud, steel slag, two samples of air-cooled blast furnace [BF] slag, and one sample of water-cooled BF slag), along with wollastonite, were evaluated as fertilizer-Si sources. Evaluation was carried out by analyzing total and extractable Si fractions in the materials, by incubating them at two rates with a Si-deficient soil and measuring potentially available extractable Si and by measuring yield and Si uptake by two successive rice crops grown in the fertilized soils. Of the waste materials used, fly ash had the highest total Si content (29%) but a negligible quantity was present in extractable forms. Steel slag and bauxite-processing mud had only 5%-7% Si content while BF slags contained 14%-18% Si. All materials, other than fly ash, increased the amount of extractable Si present in the soil. Additions of steel slag and bauxite-processing mud caused greater increases in Si extractability than the air-cooled BF slags while water-cooled BF slag-treated soils contained notably high acid-extractable Si. Because of the alkaline nature of the materials, and their reaction products, there was a positive relationship between extractable soil Si and soil pH. However, an equilibration experiment using NaSiO3 as the Si source confirmed that Si solubility in the soil decreased with increasing pH. Dry-matter yields of rice, at the lower rate of Si addition, were increased by all treatments other than fly ash. The higher rates of steel slag and bauxite-processing mud caused yield depressions. Total Si uptake by rice was increased by all treatments, other than fly ash, and was greater at the higher rate of Si addition. It was concluded that the BF slags are the most effective waste materials as fertilizer-Si sources and that, in slag-amended soils, CaCl2 and NH4 acetate are the most reliable soil-test extractants. © 2013 WILEY-VCH Verlag GmbH & Co. KGaA, Weinheim.

Allsopp P.G.,BSES Ltd
Annual Review of Entomology | Year: 2010

Canegrubs, larvae of a complex of endemic melolonthine scarabs, are the key pests in Australian sugarcane. In the early 1990s, following the withdrawal of organochlorines, the Australian sugarcane industry faced a crisis with increasing canegrub damage. A comprehensive integrated pest management strategy was developed on the basis of research on a wide range of topics such as basic taxonomy, species identification, ecology and biology of the different species within the sugarcane system, development of new insecticides and new formulations of insecticides, potential development of genetically modified pest-resistant canes, and methods for predicting risk of infestations. The value of the research depended on a wide-ranging extension program that saw broadscale adoption of the new strategies. However, the cropping system is not static, and recent changes have the potential to alter plant architecture and phenology and therefore could affect canegrub biology, canegrub feeding, the impact of natural controls on canegrubs, and the accessibility to soil for sampling and insecticide application. Growers also demand cheaper, easier-to-use options. © 2010 by Annual Reviews All rights reserved.

University of Queensland and BSES Ltd | Date: 2010-07-13

The present invention relates generally to the use of plants as bioreactors for the production of molecules having useful properties such as inter alia polymers, metabolites, proteins, pharmaceuticals and nutraceuticals. More particularly, the present invention contemplates the use of grasses, and even more particularly C4 grasses, such as sugarcane, for the production of a range of compounds such as, for example, polyhydroxyalkanoates, pHBA, vanillin, indigo, adipic acid, 2-phenylethanol, 1,3-propanediol, sorbitol, fructan polymers and lactic acid as well as other products including, inter alia, other plastics, silks, carbohydrates, therapeutic and nutraceutic proteins and antibodies. The present invention further extends to transgenic plants and, in particular, transgenic C4 grass plants, capable of producing the compounds noted above and other products, and to methods for generating such plants. The ability to utilize the high growth rate and efficient carbon fixation of C4 grasses is advantageous, in that it obviates the significant growth penalties observed in other plants, and results in high yields of desired product without necessarily causing concomitant deleterious effects on individual plants. In addition, the C4 grass, sugarcane, is particularly advantageous, as in addition to the features common to all C4 grasses, this plant accumulates sucrose. This sucrose store provides a ready supply of carbon based compounds and energy which may further obviate any deleterious effects on the growth of the plant associated with the production of the product. The present invention provides, therefore, a bioreactor system comprising a genetically modified plant designed to produce particular metabolic or biosynthetic products of interest.

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