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Genes from wild wheat could boost domesticated crop yields as global food demand explodes

| | September 19, 2019
wheat weaving twisted grain like
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This article or excerpt is included in the GLP’s daily curated selection of ideologically diverse news, opinion and analysis of biotechnology innovation.

Wild relatives of food crops, such as wheat, host an abundant array of genetic material to help the plants cope with a changing climate.

In a study over 28 years showed that populations of wild wheat developed “beneficial mutations” such as a tolerance to temperature increases. Researchers say the results improve our understanding of how plants are responding to a warming world. The findings appear in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

[In 2018], scientists identified the location of 100,000 wheat genes. This was considered to be a “game changer” in the race to develop climate change-resistant varieties of the vital primary food crop.

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The UN has estimated that wheat production needs to be increased by 60% by 2050 in order to feed the population, which by then will have grown to an estimated 9.6 billion.

Science is also developing mathematical models to identify genetic material that could help improve food crops’ resilience to climate change.

Scientists hope the models will speed up the process of identifying traits, such as drought resistance, allowing breeders to grow climate-proof crops.

Read full, original article: Wild wheat genetics offer climate hope for food crops

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