The Centre for Bioinformatics and Biometrics delivers innovative science by collaborating with industry and research organisations to deliver scientific and statistical solutions to relevant global issues. A major industry partner is the Grains Research and Development Corporation (GRDC) which funds the Bioinformatics and Biometrics for the Australian Grain Industries (BBAGI) project. This project provides collaborative statistical support to the grains industry in investments of key importance such as National Variety Trials and support of public plant breeding programs (oats, fieldpeas, faba beans, lentils and chickpeas).

In the summer of 2018-2019 six SMAS students were awarded CBB scholarships to assist with the analysis of National Variety Trials. They were Monique Jordan, Nicholas Lambert, Sam McEwan, Jesse Rand, Matthew Sainsbury-Dale and Lu Wang.

NVT is a comparative variety testing program where near-to-release and released varieties are evaluated across the Australian grain belt with a view to providing information to growers about which varieties perform best in their local environment.
Each year ~700 trials are sown for 11 crops at ~200 locations. The trials are sown in April-June and harvested in Oct-Jan. BBAGI are contracted to perform single site analyses within 8 days of the trial being harvested and subsequently multi-year multi-environment analyses. The CBB Summer Scholars were employed to assist with the single site analyses and succeeded in analysing the majority of trials in 1-2 days, well within the 8 day requirement. They also undertook a small research project selected from a list of projects developed by Professor Brian Cullis and Associate Professor Alison Smith. All projects address statistical issues that are faced in NVT/BBAGI analyses. Thus, the students have an opportunity to directly contribute to improving statistical methodology for the grains sectors.

On Friday 22nd February a culminating event was held where the scholars gave presentations on their projects and were presented with a certificate. It was followed by an enjoyable lunch at the Expresso Warriors. Thanks to SMAS and NIASRA staff for supporting this event.

If anyone would like further information about the BBAGI project please contact Ky Mathews (kmathews@uow.edu.au).