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Pathologist helping solve disease puzzle

By working to understand each piece of disease’s puzzle, researchers are taking a new approach to protecting mungbean crops.
Photo: Pulse Australia.

Researchers are taking a new approach to protecting mungbean crops from disease, working to understand each piece of a disease's 'puzzle'. The ultimate aim is to improve resistance and, with that, boost production of these summer legumes.

At the Queensland Department of Agriculture and Fisheries' (DAF) Hermitage Research Facility, plant pathologist Araz Solman says there are three components to solve. First, a pathogen's biology and how it works; second, how a plant responds to that; and finally how the environment may promote a disease.

Dr Solman recently started working within the DAF and GRDC-supported National Mungbean Improvement Program (NMIP). He says that understanding the pathogen essentially helps to understand the disease, its impacts, and how to develop and implement control strategies.

Dr Solman's role within the program will see him develop laboratory, glasshouse and field protocols for key mungbean diseases, benchmark the disease reactions of existing varieties to support growers in their variety choice, and screen mungbean germplasm for new sources of resistance to improve the efficiency of breeding resistant and multiple-resistant varieties.

"My previous experience in cereal pathology makes me keenly aware of innovations within the grains industry, which could be applied to mungbeans. I like to think of mungbeans as an upcoming David in the old David and Goliath analogy. Collaboration with industry partners and other researchers will be essential in achieving this."

Dr Solman's appointment opens up many opportunities for mungbeans to catch up to winter cereals and winter pulses, which have dedicated National Variety Trial testing, says DAF mungbean breeder and principal research scientist Col Douglas.

"A key difference for mungbean breeding is that the bacterial diseases are markedly different from fungal diseases. That means it is more challenging to establish bacterial disease. Also, there are no crop protection products to evaluate in yield-loss trials and develop integrated management strategies," Mr Douglas says.

The impact of diseases such as Halo blight, Tan spot and Powdery mildew can be significant, but also has broader impacts on industry acceptance and development, which this research aims to address.

"I like to think of mungbeans as an upcoming David in the old David and Goliath analogy." – Dr Araz Solman.

Araz Solman

Queensland plant pathologist Araz Solman is working to better understand mungbean diseases. Photo: Department of Agriculture and Fisheries.

More information: Araz Solman,

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