of China Australia Food Security Cooperation Initiative (CAFSCI)

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High yielding anthracnose-resistant Stylosanthes for agricultural systems in India and China

Overview of Project

Stylosanthes is a fast-growing, tropical leguminous plant with various uses. In China it is mainly used as a green manure for soil enhancements, and in feed meal productions. Its nitrogen-fixing properties also help replenish soil nutrients in ley farming and intercropping systems. It also helps restore marginal lands with infertile acid soils and is important in revegetation programs.

Stylosanthes is also important in Central and South America, Africa and other Asian countries. The beef industry in northern Australia increasingly relies on Stylosanthes as a pasture plant for cattle. However, the major constraint to its use, wherever it is grown, is the fungus diseases anthracnose. The fungus is diverse and quick to adapt, and with growing international travel and trade the risk of even more damaging fungal strains entering Australia, India or China is increasing.

In this project Australia contributed its recognised experience in tropical pasture technology - its Stylosanthes expertise in particular - to help combat the anthracnose disease problem.

The aim of the project was to select strains of Stylosanthes resistant to anthracnose, with the ultimate intention of providing high-yielding, disease-resistant varieties of Stylosanthes that perform better on the farms of India, China and northern Australia."

Key Outcomes of Project

The project made excellent progress against all objectives. There was extensive screening of lines from all partners and many showed excellent resistance. The project contributed to the release of two cultivars of Stylosanthes seabrana for Maharashtra in India, two S. guianensis cultivars named Reyan7 and Reyan10 in China, and one S. capitata-S. macrocephala multiline cultivar ‘Estilosantes Campo Grande’ in Brazil. Quantitative traits loci (QTLs) for resistance were mapped and several are available as markers. Studies of anthracnose epidemiology and risk mapping have given, for the first time, a clear understanding of the genetic structure and virulence of the C. gloeosporioides population in all participating countries.

The project established a stylo web site: Project experiences and findings are also described in an ACIAR publication entitled ‘High-yielding Anthracnose-resistant Stylosanthes for Agricultural Systems’.

The broad testing of extensive Stylosanthes germplasm in 20 sites across the world, the release of several Brazilian and Chinese cultivars, the knowledge gained on the nature of pathogen populations in India, Brazil and Australia, and the novel information on the anthracnose disease threats to Australia from China and India, are all examples of sound scientific achievements and outputs. It has expanded the scientific base considerably for continued and targeted improvement in anthracnose resistance in Stylosanthes in China, India and Brazil, and this will greatly assist the livestock industries of these countries.

Project Dates

01 Jul 1998 - 31 Dec 2003


CSIRO Plant Industry - Australia
Chinese Academy of Tropical Agricultural Science - China
Indian Grasslands and Fodder Research Institute - India
International Center for Tropical Agriculture - Colombia


Dr Sukumar Chakraborty



07 32142677