Ms Jane Brownlee1, Mr Chris Herrmann1, Mr Matthew Nelson1 

1CSIRO, Floreat, Australia

Canola (Brassica napus L.) is a young species (<7500 years old) with a short history of crop improvement. Its narrow genetic base and limited diversity provides a significant challenge for canola breeders to make continual productivity gains while increasing the resilience of varieties to a range of environmental stresses and disease pressures.  In contrast, the wild relatives of canola are extremely diverse but have rarely been used effectively in canola improvement. This project is assembling a diverse panel of primarily diploid Brassica species focusing on wild accessions and oilseed types. The aim of this work is to identify useful traits and to rapidly transfer these to canola using efficient crossing and gene editing strategies.

We have mapped the origins of 922 wild Brassica accessions from 38 taxa held in international seed collections (and listed in the Eurisco database). With collaborators in the USA and Australia we are identifying key gaps in seed collections to prioritise regions for future seed collection activities. With the assistance of the Australian Grains Genebank, we are importing a broad representation of wild Brassica and non-B. napus oilseed species from international seed collections. So far, we have grown out 135 accessions from 19  different taxa from 23 countries for seed multiplication and preliminary phenotypic evaluation (including vernalisation requirement, self-incompatibility, colour, leaf waxiness, days to flowering and maturity). Intensive phenotypic and genotypic evaluations are planned. This genetic resource will be a valuable source of useful genetic and trait diversity for the genetic advancement and research of canola.


Jane Brownlee completed a Bachelor of Environmental Science (Honours), at Carleton University, Ottawa, Canada in 2014. During her honours she worked as a Research Assistant at the Ottawa Research and Development Centre, Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada and explored the relationship between plant height and severity of infection of Fusarium Head Blight in spring wheat. In 2015 she moved to Australia as Senior Research Technician at Sugar Research Australia, Townsville, where she worked alongside Dr Frikkie Botha, QAAFI and the University of Queensland investigating the causes of Yellow Canopy Syndrome in sugarcane. Jane later moved to Perth, Australia, to work as a Glasshouse Lead Coordinator at Intergrain, working with early-stage breeders to improve wheat and barley crop performance in new varieties.  Jane joined CSIRO in Perth, Western Australia, in 2019 and is involved in research exploring chilling tolerance in wild cicer where she is measuring phenology, biomass production and partitioning, water-use, stress onset, and the traits that mitigate these. Jane is also involved in work with wild brassicas to improve genetic diversity in canola and is particularly interested in using wild germplasm to broaden the adaptive and genetic base of elite, modern crops.



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