Ensuring Lucerne seed production in the absence of bees


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 selfpollination in crops is a viable option. Lucerne is an autopolyploid species, and finding rare recessive alleles in autopolyploid species is significantly harder than in diploids or allopolyploids. A large and diverse Lucerne population will be developed and maintained in insectproof screenhouses at UWA to provide an effective screen to select for selfpollination. 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 selfpollination 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 selfpollination. Once identified, there may be several options as to how this selfpollination 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 selfpollinate in the absence of bees. Project Outcomes: Determination of whether there are Lucerne genotypes that have the ability to selfpollinate in the absence of bees. Commercialisation opportunities identified for any Lucerne genotypes found with selfpollination ability.

Project Code


Project Stage


Project Start Date

Monday, May 1, 2017

Project Completion Date

Sunday, October 31, 2021

Journal Articles From Project

Not Available

National Priority

Frontier technologies for building and transforming Australian industries

National Priority

Advanced Technology

National Priority

PSE-Sustainable certified temperate pasture seed production