National Tree Genomics Program

Project Summary

The National Horticultural Tree Genomics Program will advance our ability to rapidly develop and implement horticultural tree cultivars that accentuate key productivity and profitability traits. Currently, many tree crops take years to flower and have architectures that require low planting densities. Long generation times delay breeding programs and lengthen the time needed for growers to see return on their investment, while low planting densities take up more agricultural land and often have lower yields per hectare.

The National Horticultural Tree Genomics Program will focus on improving tree architecture and time to first flowering in five target species – almond, avocado, citrus, mango, and macadamia. These large tree crops have long juvenile phases before they begin to flower.  Therefore, we are focused on developing smaller trees that flower sooner to reduce the time growers and breeders must wait for a return on investment from planting new varieties. Smaller trees can also be planted at higher densities and in many cases outyield larger trees on a per hectare scale. We are also exploring novel ways (e.g. using nanoparticles) to genetically manipulate these difficult-to-transform tree crops in order to test gene function and aid in the creation of new cultivars.

The National Tree Genomics Program is funded at QUT by the Hort Frontiers Advanced Production Systems Fund, with co-investment from University of Queensland, the Western Sydney UniversityPlant and Food Research and contributions from the Australian Government. Dr Stephanie Kerr also leads two Agrifutures projects on Engineering elite tree crop cultivars and Molecular speed breeding in Macadamia.

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Chief Investigators

Other Team Members

Amanda Johnson Stacey Cook Ted Velasquez