Queensland Crop Development Facility, positioned at the Redlands Research Facility, has a complex of five glasshouses with 1350 m2 of environmentally controlled space. Three of the glasshouses have Plant Containment Level 2 certification (PC2) for genetically modified plants.
Iron biofortification in bananas is being studied at Redlands as part of the Banana21 project by PhD student Tal Cooper. The project is a strategic intervention aiming to help alleviate micronutrient deficiencies in Uganda by increasing the levels of pro-vitamin A carotenoids and iron in the East African highland banana (EAHB), the staple food of this country. The Banana21 project has been investigating ways to increase the levels of iron in Cavendish banana fruit through genetic modification since 2005. Field trials in Australia have identified many transgenic lines with elevated levels of fruit iron, and now this work is being continued as glasshouse trials at the Redlands Research Facility.
The group hopes to develop bananas with significantly elevated levels of iron by the end of 2022.
Tal Cooper standing amongst banana plants
Chickpea (Cicer arietinum) is one of the world’s most economical sources of protein for food and feed. However, abiotic stresses, mainly drought and salinity, and pathogens such as Botrytis grey mould significantly hinder chickpea yield and production. Dr Sudipta Das Bhowmik is currently involved in the Advance Queensland Research Fellowship (AQRF) Tropical Pulses for Queensland project. The stress tolerant chickpea lines produced through genetic modification in CAB display a significant level of drought tolerance, without any yield penalty. Such characteristics are evident through glasshouse trials conducted at Redlands Research Facility.
Chickpea (Cicer arietinum)
A glasshouse trial of GM and non-GM chickpea is ongoing to find the yield difference under Rhizobium inoculated and non-inoculated conditions. Rhizobia, which are diazotrophic bacteria that fix atmospheric nitrogen after inside the root nodules of legumes, is added to one set of plants and the other set was grown without Rhizobia. These plants will grow until they produce the seeds and have their yield analysed between inoculated and non-inoculated plants to find difference in nitrogen fixation ability of GM and Non-GM chickpea. This work is led by Nipuni Thanthrige.
Nipuni Peththa Thanthrige’s GM and non GM chickpea
Pigeonpea (Cajanus cajan) is a pulse that provides significant opportunity as a profitable grain legume for Queensland due to its high market-demand in India. The Advance Queensland Research Fellowship (AQRF) led by My Linh Hoang uses an integrative approach comprising genetics and agronomics to trial and develop elite insect resistant, high yielding pigeonpea varieties with facile harvest and processing to make pigeonpea “Queensland’s summer chickpea”. Using the Redlands Research Facility, elite pigeonpea germplasms were selected and seed bulked for field trials conducted in the pulse growing regions in Queensland. If proven suitable, these pigeonpea varieties can be immediately entered into Queensland’s cropping systems.
Dr My Linh Hoang standing amongst Pidgeon pea
Researchers are investigating the commercialisation of native rice for Indigenous enterprise development. The project aims to lay foundations for commercialisation of Australian native rice as a high-value, low volume and culturally-identified nutritious food. Growing in wetlands of Northern Australia, the native rice varieties are only harvested at a very small scale. We have partnered with Indigenous enterprises in the Northern Territory and Queensland to scale-up native rice cultivation trials, analyse and compare nutritional values as well as develop new milling techniques for the Australian native rice. This work is being led by My Linh Hoang as part of the Future Food Systems CRC.
Native rice for Indigenous enterprise development. Work led by Dr My Linh Hoang.
Nicotiana benthamiana is widely recognized by biopharming researchers for its ability to produce complex biologics while offering low production costs, high product yields, short production timelines, flexible production and an ease of scalability. Although conventional biologics production systems can meet the pharmaceutical needs of a community at homeostasis, the recent COVID-19 pandemic has created an abrupt rise in demand for vaccines and therapeutics that highlight the gaps in this supply chain’s ability to quickly develop and produce biologics in emergency situations given a short lead time. Taking opportunity of the controlled environment offered at the Redlands PC2 glasshouse (Redlands Research Facility) for some of our large-scale validation tests we have been able to produce novel research findings and exclusive resources to develop a high yield Nicotiana benthamiana protein production platform.
Associate Professor Caroline Hauxwell’s Invertebrates and Microbiology team use the facility to support Meat and Livestock Australia-funded research on pasture dieback and its causal agent, the mealybug (Heliococcus summervillei). The Redlands glasshouses are used to produce grasses and sugarcane for experimental work at SERF and Gardens Point campus.