Better breeding = improving pasture traits through novel breeding methods

Through the Dairy Futures CRC’s Genomics-assisted breeding program, researchers are creating new opportunities for selective breeding by using DNA-based markers. The initial focus is to use these markers to improve the nutritive quality of pastures.

“The approach so far has used a candidate gene method to identify DNA markers. This method starts with genes known to be of interest and looks for unique DNA markers in those genes. There is now a collection of genes of interest that improve the nutritive quality of pastures and the approach is in its final stages of validation using field studies. Over time, we expect that new opportunities to look for DNA markers from the entire DNA sequence, not just from genes of interest, will result in further technology improvements.”

Dr Noel Cogan
Research leader

Genomics-assisted breeding — program aims

The aim of this program is to provide new tools for pasture plant breeding companies to improve hard-to-measure traits to deliver better cultivars, faster. This will be the first routine use of DNA information to make selection decisions for pasture plant breeding. Through the Genomics-assisted breeding program, Dairy Futures CRC researchers will:

  • Develop a plant breeders’ ‘toolbox’ to hasten the rates of genetic gain in pasture breeding programs.
  • Identify elite lines of ryegrass that can consistently produce more dry matter and higher levels of metabolisable energy (ME) than currently-available varieties.

Collaborative approach

The Genomics-assisted breeding program capitalises on existing relationships between geneticists, molecular plant breeders, commercial plant breeders and agronomists to deliver innovative pasture options for Australia’s dairy farmers. Organisations involved in this program include:


Program contact

Professor John Forster
Research leader