Leucaena – the case for developing a sterile variety
The Leucaena – the case for developing a sterile variety project evaluated the technical feasibility of developing sterile leucaena using two contrasting methodologies: genetic modification and hybrid breeding systems. Additionally, the project investigated the likelihood that these methodologies could develop cultivars that address the concerns regarding leucaena invasiveness.
Leucaena (Leucaena leucocephalassp. glabrata) is one of the most widely sown pasture legumes of northern Queensland. Estimates of established leucaena exceed well over 220,000 ha. Where suited, this leguminous tree is the basis of a highly productive and persistent pasture. Technologies have been developed to address issues with establishment, grazing management and the risk of toxicity.
As with most successful, introduced pasture plants, the weed risk associated with seed spread from forage leucaena into non-grazed areas, is significant. Prior to its widespread use as a pasture plant, leucaena plants (most likely, L leucocephalassp. Leucocephala) had already colonised pockets of ungrazed, non-agricultural land in Queensland and some other areas of northern Australia.
Justifiably, this has served to raise concerns about the potential for pasture plantings to exacerbate this problem. Therefore, the need to ensure that new initiatives such as the development of a sterile variety of leucaena are critical to the ongoing success of this species.
Concerns regarding the weediness of leucaena have led to the development of a sterile variety being prominent in the code of practice for leucaena growers, promoted by the Leucaena Network . This report evaluated the technical feasibility of developing sterile leucaena using two contrasting methodologies: genetic modification and hybrid breeding systems. Similarly, the project investigated the likelihood that these methodologies could develop cultivars that addressed concerns regarding invasiveness of leucaena.
Project completion: 30 April 2012
Contact: Dr Kevin Smith
Collaborator: AbacusBio Pty Ltd
To learn more about this project, please read the final report summary and download the final report (B.NBP.0705) (PDF, 611.7 KB) from the Meat & Livestock Australia website.