Breeding a psyllid-resistant Leucaena hybrid for northern Australia – Phase 2

The Breeding a psyllid-resistant Leucaena hybrid for northern Australia – Phase 2 project continued the work of previous breeding programs aiming to produce a psyllid-resistant variety of leucaena that would breed true-to-type.


The psyllid insect greatly reduces the productivity of leucaena (Leucaena leucocephala) in tropical and subtropical Australia during periods of humid weather when psyllid challenge is greatest. Control of the insect is possible by aerial spraying but breeding for resistance is the desirable approach.

In 2003, a breeding program was commenced to develop a psyllid resistant leucaena based on the hybridization of L. leucocephala (highly susceptible species) with L. pallida (a highly resistant species). By 2008, a backcrossed heterozygous phenotype was achieved which needed two cycles of progeny testing and selection to obtain a self-fertile variety that was homozygous for psyllid resistance and therefore relatively uniform and stable. Plants were also selected for their leafiness, branchiness, moderate flowering and seeding, and high digestibility.

The program successfully achieved its objective and three breeding lines are now available for commercialization and release to industry. Plant Breeders Rights will be sought over the period 2013-2015. The benefits of the new variety will be far reaching and will accumulate with time in this long-lived plant as more and more of the new variety is planted thus avoiding the severe loss of productivity when psyllid challenge is severe.

When: 1 September 2009 to 1 February 2013

Contact: Dr Max Shelton

Collaborator: University of Queensland

More information

For more information, please read the final report summary and download the final report (B.NBP.0610) (PDF, 1.7 MB) from the Meat & Livestock Australia website.