SNELL, Peter

Peter Snell

Research interests

  • Rice breeding and genetics
  • Genetic improvements in rice water productivity
  • Genetic improvements through selection to abiotic and biotic stresses
  • Evolving rice varieties with emerging farming systems


Dr Peter Snell has 13 years experience with the rice breeding program at the Yanco Agricultural Institute since his appointment in January 1998 and is responsible for the release of five commercial rice varieties.

He has implemented a wide range of new techniques including increasing the number of quantitative measures recorded throughout small-plot testing and increased accuracy in determining breeding value through the use of restricted maximum likelihood statistical methods to account for field-based spatial variation and lab-based temporal variation.

He has re-introduced backcrossing into the breeding program for germplasm enhancement and stress tolerance.

Peter is the lead researcher evaluating aerobic rice varieties for temperate and tropical production in Australia.


  • Bachelor of Agricultural Science (Hons I), University of Queensland
  • PhD (crop physiology), University of Queensland

Current projects

  • Developing superior aromatic rice germplasm for Australia (RIRDC with UQ – ongoing)
  • Cold tolerance traits and QTLs for improved efficiency of rice breeding program (RIRDC with UQ – ongoing)
  • Characterisation of Rice blast races present in Australia (RIRDC with UWA – ongoing)
  • Enhancing rice germplasm development for transforming production systems in Cambodia and Australia (ACIAR – ongoing)
  • Climate change affecting land use in the Mekong Delta: adaptation of rice-based cropping systems (ACIAR – ongoing)
  • Australian Rice Partnership (SunRice/RIRDC/NSW DPI – ongoing)
  • Rice cold tolerance for yield stability and water use efficiency (2) (RIRDC completed)
  • Rice Improvement III (RIRDC completed)

Recent publications

Ye C, Fukai, S, Godwin I, Koh H, Reinke R, Zhou Y, Lambrides C, Snell P & Jiang W (2010) A quantitative trait locus controlling low temperature induced spikelet sterility at booting stage in rice. Euphytica, 176, 291-301.

Stevens, MM, Snell, PJ 2010, ‘When crops and climate collide: biosecurity threats associated with stabilising rice production in Australia’, presentation at the Global Biosecurity 2010: Safeguarding Agriculture and the Environment Conference, Brisbane, 28 February–3 March, 2010.

Ye, C, Fukai, S, Godwin, I, Reinke, R, Snell, P, Schiller, J & Basnayake, J 2009, ‘Cold tolerance in rice varieties at different growth stages’, Crop & Pasture Science, vol. 60, pp. 328–338.

Changrong, Y, Fukai, S, Godwin, I, Reinke, R, Snell, P & Koh, H 2009, ‘Identifying genetic resources and QTL for cold tolerance in rice’,  Proceeding 14th Australian Plant Breeding & 11th SABRAO Conference, 10–14 August 2009, Cairns, Australia.

Snell, P, Ye, C & Reinke, R 2009, ‘Cold tolerance–a key trait for improving water productivity of rice in south-eastern Australia’, 6th International Rice Genetics Symposium, Manila, Philippines, (IRRI).

Basnayake, J, Cooper, M, Ludlow, MM, Henzell, GL & Snell, PJ 1995, ‘Inheritance of osmotic adjustment to water stress in three grain sorghum crosses’, Theoretical and Applied Genetics, vol. 90, pp. 675–682.

Fields of research

  • 070305 Crop and Pasture Improvement (Selection and Breeding)

Keyword/phrase list of research interests

  • Rice Breeding
  • Maintenance breeding
  • Cold tolerance mechanism for rice
  • Water productivity

Contact details

Location: Yanco Agricultural Institute