New research will look at the timing of flowering in wheat

CRUCIAL TIMING: CSU Bachelor of Science (Honours) student Ramon Javier Atayde has been awarded a scholarship.
CRUCIAL TIMING: CSU Bachelor of Science (Honours) student Ramon Javier Atayde has been awarded a scholarship.

A childhood fascination with nature, interest in agriculture has set one Charles Sturt University (CSU) student on the path to a research career.

CSU Bachelor of Science (Honours) student Ramon Javier Atayde has been awarded a scholarship from the Graham Centre for Agricultural innovation for his study into one of the factors that may influence the flowering time of wheat.

“I’m particularly interested in the effects of cold temperature during seed development on the flowering time of progeny in wheat,” Mr Atayde said.

“This has implications for grain growers who try to manipulate sowing so that wheat flowers at the optimum time for grain formation, maximising yields.”

To avoid yield loss, grain growers aim to have wheat plants flowering under conditions that optimise grain formation, called the “flowering window’.

One of the key factors influencing the flowering time of winter wheats is vernalisation, or the accumulation of cold temperature.

Because wheat embryos are receptive to vernalisation as soon as they are active, there is evidence both anecdotally and in older literature to suggest that the developing embryo post anthesis can be partially vernalised whilst still attached to the mother plant.

This could mean that progeny when sown, may be partially vernalised leading to plants flowering outside their optimum window and consequential yield loss due to cold stress.

Mr Atayde’s research aims to determine whether developing grains in wheat can be vernalised whilst still attached to the mother plant, and whether this translates to faster flowering of progeny once sown. Mr Atayde’s research is supervised by CSU lecturer Dr Sergio Moroni, NSW Department of Primary Industries (DPI) crop physiologist Dr Felicity Harris and CSIRO research group leader Dr Ben Trevaskis.

“I have found my honours to be challenging but rewarding, and have enjoyed the process,” Mr Atayde said.

“Often you forget how much effort goes on behind the scenes for research,” he said.