A number of physiological traits could be optimised in new cultivars to improve performance in environments that frequently experience drought. To maximise crop yield under water-limited conditions, considering the timing of water use and access to soil moisture is critical. Thus, the HickeyLab is exploring a number of above- and below-ground physiological traits that could offer yield benefits in different environments, such as early vigour, root architecture, and stay-green.
In a GRDC-funded project led by Dr Jack Christopher at UQ (2013-2017), the HickeyLab team contributed to the discovery of genomic regions associated with root traits and stay-green traits that underpin drought adaptation in wheat (Christopher et al. 2021). Likewise, our research on durum wheat in partnership with ICRADA and the University of Adelaide has identified key loci influencing root and canopy traits important for yield under water-limited conditions (Alahamad et al. 2019; 2020). Most recently, our research has uncovered genomic regions controlling early vigour (Vukasovic et al. 2022) and canopy development (Kang et al. 2022) that could be harnessed to develop cultivars with improved yield under drought.