Ensuring Lucerne seed production in the absence of bees

University of Western Australia

  • Project code: PRJ-010875

  • Project stage: Closed

  • Project start date: Monday, May 1, 2017

  • Project completion date: Sunday, October 31, 2021

  • Journal Articles From Project: No Journal Article No Journal Article (Issue: No Journal Article on 1/7/2021)

  • National Priority: PSE-Sustainable certified temperate pasture seed production


Lucerne is an important world pasture species.
Australia is the third largest exporter of Lucerne seed.
Bee decline is seen as a potential threat to this industry.
The debate on managing the impact of bee decline on food production has focused on bees.
Modifying the plant’s need for insect pollination has not be seriously considered.
Experience with a range of species suggests selecting for self-pollination in crops is a viable option.
Lucerne is an auto-polyploid species, and finding rare recessive alleles in auto-polyploid species is significantly harder than in diploids or allopolyploids.
A large and diverse Lucerne population will be developed and maintained in insect-proof screen-houses at UWA to provide an effective screen to select for self-pollination.
It is proposed that this project will screen 200,000 genotypes. This should allow for the detection of up to a 4 gene system for self-pollination ability in Lucerne.
The UWA facilities provide a suitable environment for testing the selected plants both with and without bees to determine whether the material selected is truly capable of self-pollination.
Once identified, there may be several options as to how this self-pollination character might be exploited.


Pasture Seeds

Research Organisation

University of Western Australia

Objective Summary

The objective is to identify genotypes of Lucerne that have the ability to self-pollinate in the absence of bees.
Project Outcomes:
• Determination of whether there are Lucerne genotypes that have the ability to self-pollinate in the absence of bees.
• Commercialisation opportunities identified for any Lucerne genotypes found with self-pollination ability.