Dr Ben Trevaskis

Research Group Leader

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Biography

Together with a team of outstanding researchers at CSIRO, I am studying the genetic pathways that control seasonal flowering-behaviours of crops. The main focus has been genes that control flowering of wheat, particularly the vernalization response, whereby the prolonged cold of winter triggers spring flowering.

More broadly, our research explores genetic variation in flowering-behaviour of a range of crops, including wheat, barley and canola. This topic is important to agriculture becasue understanding how genetic variation influences flowering can help plant breeders adapt future crop varieties to target growing conditions. Of particular importance is resolving gene-environment interactions to understand and predict the flowering behaviour of diverse crop varieties at a range of locations.

Currently we are exploring the application of machine-learning to trait-prediction, using flowering-behaviour as a test system. This research aims to integrate multi-level genomic data with detailed environment characterisation to resolve gene-environment interactions and predict traits under field conditions. Through this research I have become actively involved in the CSIRO Future Science Platform for Machine-learning and Artificial Intelligence.

One output of our research is a large set of wheat test lines that have different flowering behaviours but that are otherwise 97% identical. This set of 'near-isogenic lines" was generated in the broadly adaptable cultivar Sunstate. It covers many different combinations of vernalization requirement and photoperiod sensitivities, in addition to some other traits like plant height and the presence of awns. Small volumes of seed from these lines can be provided to researchers on request.

We have long-term collaborations with other Australian grains industry researchers located with the Queensland Agriculture Forestry Initiative (QAFFI), University of Tasmania, University of Adelaide, and NSW Department of Primary Industries, as well as international researchers at Oregon State University (USA) and the Chinese Academy of Science, Department of Botany.

Publications

We have publications by Dr Ben Trevaskis