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Meridian Institute

Kansas State University Will Lead Effort to Develop Climate-Resilient Wheat

Summary posted by Meridian on 10/31/2013

Source: Kansas State University (30 Oct 2013)

Author(s): Mary Lou Peter

A new five-year US$5 million project will create the Feed the Future Innovation Lab for Applied Wheat Genomics at Kansas State University, United States. The U.S. Agency for International Development, as part of Feed the Future, the U.S. government’s global hunger and food security initiative, is funding the project. The focus of the initiative is on developing wheat varieties that are resilient to the warming effects of climate change. South Asia, which typically produces 20 percent of the world’s wheat crop, will be targeted first. Jesse Poland, a research geneticist with the U.S. Department of Agriculture and an assistant professor of agronomy at Kansas State, said, “Globally, wheat production is increasing at a rate of 1 percent annually, but there is evidence of yield stagnation in some regions, including South Asia. In fact, climate models predict that in tropical and sub-tropical regions such as South Asia, yield will decrease by 10 percent for every 1 degree rise in temperature. Given current cultivars and production practices, this would likely reduce production levels by 30 percent in these regions.” Such a reduction would be devastating for people in South Asia and other developing regions that rely on the wheat crop for both income and food. The team will use “genomic selection” to boost genetic gains in wheat targeted to a future warmer climate with a goal of developing heat-tolerant, high-yielding, and farmer-accepted varieties for South Asia. “This project signifies a new era of ‘big science’ for international wheat development,” Poland added. “The team will generate the largest public resource of elite candidate wheat varieties, along with seed and genetic information in wheat history. The wheat varieties generated by the project will have enhanced climate resilience, combining heat tolerance with heat avoidance (earliness), and maximized yield potential.”

The original article may still be available at http://www.ksre.ksu.edu/news/story/climate_resilient103013.aspx

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