Title: A novel approach to enhancing grain yield in acid soils prone to extreme water regimes

Hossein Khazab Saberi

University of Western Australia, Australia


Dr. Saberi obtained B.Sc. and M.Sc. at University of Pahlavi Shiraz and the Tehran University, received his early career trainings at ICARDA and CIMMYT, and worked with Iranian cereal improvement program for 15 years. He received his PhD at the University of Adelaide (Australia) in 1998. He spent 2 years as a postdoc at Cooperative Research Centre for Molecular Plant Breeding in Adelaide. After that, he worked at Department of Agriculture Western Australia and the University of WA. He recently pioneered the idea of increasing wheat tolerance to ion toxicities (Al, Mn and Fe) to enhance grain yield in acid soils prone to waterlogging and drought.


Toxicities of Al, Mn and Fe in acidic soils (40% of global arable land) are major constraints to growing intolerant crops. The transiently induced high-to-toxic concentrations of Al, Mn and Fe under reduced soil conditions during wet season (waterlogging) hinder root growth, delay maturity and, if coincided with terminal drought, exacerbate the yield loss. Soil acidification is on the rise, and the future climate changes predicted to include intense winter rainfall (inducing reduced soil conditions), followed by high temperature and drought toward crop maturity, accentuate the importance of solving the problem of poor tolerance of most crops and varieties to ion toxicities induced in acidic soils subjected to transient waterlogging.

We have pioneered the idea of improving the wheat grain yield in acidic soils prone to transient waterlogging and terminal drought via enhanced tolerance to combined ion toxicities (Al, Mn and Fe). We have provided evidence that improved tolerance to individual ion toxicities can increase grain yield by 10% in acidic soils prone to transient waterlogging (Khabaz-Saberi and Rengel 2010; Khabaz-Saberi, Barker and Rengel, 2012) and terminal drought (Khabaz-Saberi, Barker and Rengel, 2014) following optimisation of screening techniques for tolerance to ion toxicities in wheat germplasm (Khabaz-Saberi et al. 2010a; Khabaz-Saberi et al. 2010b). Our research has demonstrated that genotypes tolerant to ion toxicities responded better to lime application than intolerant genotypes (Khabaz-Saberi, Barker and Rengel, 2014) and that induced ion toxicities are not confined only to waterlogged acid soils in the high-rainfall zones, but also occur in the low-to-medium rainfall areas during wet seasons. We have produced the required tools, including mapping populations from parents distinct in ion toxicities, for producing molecular markers to be used in marker-assisted selection. Moreover, pyramiding tolerance to multiple toxicities in commercial wheat genotypes will widen their environmental adaptability and result in increased yields under a variety of soil/water conditions.