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Information sourced from www.rirdc.gov.au

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    Paterson's  curse

Below is an extract from a pollination research paper prepared by the Rural Industries Research and Development Corporation (RIRDC).  To download the document, simply click on the image on the left of this screen.

Paterson's curse has been described as self-compatible, meaning that pollen tube growth in the ovule will occur from both self- and cross-pollination.  Autogamy (self-pollination) is possible, although it is not predominant in Paterson's curse with the majority of seed developed through pollination by insects, in particular the honey bee (Duke 2004). 

Despite the many costs associated with Paterson's curse, there is scope to transform the noxious weed into an economically valuable cultivated crop, low in or completely absent of the harmful pyrrolizidine alkaloids it contains (Duke 2004).  The plant is already cultivated overseas in Europe, the UK, Canada and the USA where breeding research is achieving toxin-free plant varieties and the market for the seed oil (which is high in omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids) is growing (Duke 2004).  In Australia, the University of Sydney is undertaking research to try and transform the noxious weed into a cropping alternative. 

If low-toxin or toxin-free varieties were developed and introduced into Australian faming systems, not only could the crop be harvested for its seed oil and other valuable commercial products but crossbreeding with wild varieties of Paterson's curse could be seen as a possible solution to the weed problems by reducing the gene pool for high-toxin-producing varieties.

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