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Scientist to develop disease-resistant mungbeans

Araz Solman1

A mungbean pathologist has been appointed develop Queensland’s A$100m/year industry.

The state’s Minister for Agricultural Industry Development and Fisheries Mark Furner said Dr Araz Solman will work with the Department of Agriculture and Fisheries’ pulse-breeding team at the Hermitage Research Facility near Warwick, with a keen focus on tackling the bacterial diseases of mungbean.

“This key appointment of a dedicated mungbean pathologist will make a significant contribution to expediting the development and release of disease-resistant varieties,” Mr Furner said.

“Dr Solman will work on the bacterial pathogens that cause halo blight and tan spot in mungbeans – expanding our knowledge of these two major seed-borne diseases and finding strategies to minimise their impact.

“As part of the pulse breeding team, he will test germplasm in the laboratory, glasshouse and in field nurseries to understand and identify new sources of disease resistance, then help breed these into new and more resilient mungbean varieties.

“That’s good for the industry and good for regional Queensland jobs.”

Mr Furner said the research with investment partners the GRDC and the Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research will contribute directly to increasing grower confidence in mungbean and strengthening the export value chain.

Dr Solman said the mungbean industry was of particular appeal for its huge growth potential within Australia and worldwide.

“Long a staple of southern and south-east Asian cuisines, mungbean is increasingly becoming a part of more health-conscious Australian diets and has further potential in plant-based and allergen-free foods and ingredients,” he said. “I am personally quite a big consumer of mungbeans, which also helps!”

Dr Solman completed his PhD research in the Centre for Crop and Disease Management at Curtin University, investigating disease development and pathogen interactions in wheat plants co-infected by two major fungi. See the story here https://researchforagriculture.com.au/2020/03/11/dna-tracks-wheat-fungal-co-infection/

Prior to that he worked as a research scientist at the International Centre of Agricultural Research in Dry Areas employing farmer-oriented plant breeding and management tactics to improve drought tolerance in wheat and barley crops for smallholder grain farmers in Syria and Iraq.