New Leucaena Varieties
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New Varieties of Leucaena

New Leucaena


Talk Outline

1. Set the scene

2. Wondergraze

3. UQ/MLA psyllid-resistant variety

4. Future possibilities

Setting the scene

Leucaena genus = 26 taxa

All commercial varieties are

Leucaena leucocephala ssp. glabrata

Australian industry has very narrow

germplasm base

Currently 4 commercial varieties

Cunningham and Peru

Released by CSIRO

Cunningham bred from Peru (1976)

Short bushes with good basal branching

Easy to manage

Susceptible to psyllid damage

Prolific seed producers (weed risk)

cv. Tarramba

A UH variety released in 1994

Better yield, seedling vigour, cool tolerance

& growth under psyllid attack

Tree-like growth habit → height control

Similar frost susceptibility to Cunningham

Lower seed production (lower weed risk)

NEW cv. Wondergraze

A variety bred by University of Hawaii

Released in 2009

Has the best attributes of all other varieties

•Seedling vigour, forage yield & psyllid

tolerance of Tarramba

•Basal branching and shorter stature of

Peru & Cunningham

•Palatable and good forage quality

Origin of Wondergraze

Parents identified in Hawaii as being

productive & psyllid-tolerant

K584 x Tarramba

K584 was a short bushy plant

First cross was made in 1987

The F 1 progeny were high yielding &


Wondergraze in Australia

In 1990 Max had a sabbatical in Hawaii

F 2 WG seed imported to Australia in 1992

First field trial planted in 1993

Tested for forage/wood yield, psyllid

resistance & forage quality

From 1995-1998 big trial in Brisbane &

Philippines found WG in top 11 out of 116


Slow road to commercialization

Tarramba & WG identified as the best

L. leucocephala varieties for 15 years

Dalzell & Shelton slow to realize value to


In 2005 decided to use WG as backcross

parent in MLA psyllid-resistant breeding


In 2007 the penny dropped.....

Potential realized

Leucseeds and UH made aware of value

of WG to industry

UH Plant Breeders Rights protected in


DNA testing used to identify WG for PBR


PBR granted and first seed sales in 2009

Public launch on 5 th December 2011

Next G Variety

MLA/UQ Psyllid-Resistant Hybrid

In 2001 UQ & DEEDI lobbied MLA to

develop a psyllid-resistant hybrid leucaena

In 2002 MLA funded the breeding program

Over the last 10 years, 2 cycles of

recurrent mass selection + 2 cycles of

backcrossing + 2 cycles of progeny testing

have been completed

Total investment >$1 M

Breeding program

Interspecific hybridization

Psyllid-resistance found in L. pallida

UH pioneered hand crosses of L. pallida x

L. leucocephala ssp. glabrata

2002-2005 open pollinated program based

on 5 elite F 1 hybrids

2006-2010 backcross program based on


UQ/MLA Variety

2012 = last year of plant breeding

40 exciting breeding lines under evaluation

Those that are vigorous, psyllid-resistant,

have high forage quality and are

reasonably uniform will be selected

New variety will be selected by July 2012

By 2013 seed handed to commercial

producers for increase

Progeny Test 1

Progeny Test 2

Further Development Work

1. Application for PBR and completion of

DUS trial (2013-2014)

2. Seed increase for commercial sale is

required (2014-2015)

3. Grazing trial to test palatability, animal

production and plant tolerance to grazing


Which variety should I grow?

1. Humid environments >800 mm rainfall -

UQ/MLA hybrid

2. Subhumid 600-800 mm rainfall zone –

all existing varieties + UQ/MLA hybrid

In wetter years, psyllids are a problem

everywhere – UQ/MLA hybrid will give

certainty of forage supply

Wondergraze 2 nd best in subhumid areas

Future possibilities

1. Male sterile L. leucocephala

No weed risk; used to create new hybrids

MLA currently assessing feasibility of

developing sterile varieties

2. More cold tolerant varieties can be bred

(will take 10 years - $$$?)

3. Frost resistant varieties might be possible

(complicated >15 years)

MLA Breeding project

UQ - Max Shelton, Chris Lambrides, Mark Dieters, Ben Mullen,

Ross Gutteridge

DEEDI – Jim Kernot, Bernie English

UH - Jim Brewbaker

Students - Gerry Solis, Felipe Moraes, Tom Ryan, Emily Litzow

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