Newswise — University of Adelaide experts are part of a new research centre that will train the next generation of scientists to develop more resilient crops.

The Australian Research Council (ARC) Industrial Transformation Training Centre for Accelerated Future Crop Development will significantly grow Australia's agricultural sector.

The University of Adelaide’s Associate Professor Stuart Roy from the School of Agriculture, Food and Wine, and Waite Research Institute will be the centre’s Deputy Director - Industry.

“The ARC Industrial Transformation Training Centre will create a new generation of leaders in the implementation of advanced gene and field technologies for the benefit of the Australian agriculture industry,” he said.

“It will build the workforce and foundations that will drive the translation of breakthroughs in advanced breeding, phenotyping and genetic technologies into higher yielding crops.

“This will increase productivity across the sector and create new markets. Our technology training programs for graduates, trainees and industry will interface with the best evidence-based practices in the wider socio-economic, regulatory and environmental contexts.”

$5 million in funding is coming from the ARC for the new centre with the Australian National University (ANU) as administrating organisation; approximately $5 million will come from research and industry partners.

“This centre will be internationally transformational in accelerating genetic improvement in crops,” said Professor Barry Pogson from ANU who will lead the centre.

The University of Adelaide will be a major node of the centre, bringing together a multi-disciplinary team which will look to understand the public perception of agri-technologies, GMOs and gene editing, and combine this with its long history in the generation and application of emerging genetic technologies to produce the next generation of acceptable crops.

“Coupled with community and stakeholder engagement, the centre will redefine and secure Australia's future in agriculture,” said Associate Professor Roy.

“The centre will train a new generation of researchers and industry leaders to build a future R&D capability pipeline in the agrifood sector to drive growth, productivity and competitiveness for the benefit of Australian agriculture and global food security.

“This will be achieved through the integration of advanced gene and field technologies, alongside the consideration of their associated social and economic impacts and regulatory frameworks.

“The University will also bring its expertise in the development of innovative trait and field evaluation pipelines. A key role of the centre will be to have greater societal engagement around the potential benefits and concerns of new agri-technologies, and improve research and industry connectivity to progress agricultural innovation.”

There are 21 organisations participating in the application, including Commonwealth and State Government research institutes, breeding companies and international research centres. The centre is one of 16 new projects announced by the ARC that are designed to tackle key global challenges in areas like energy, agriculture and biomedicine.