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New Approaches for Crop Genetic Adaptation to the Abiotic Stresses Predicted with Climate Change

Author(s): Robert Redden

Journal: Agronomy (Basel)
ISSN 2073-4395

Volume: 3;
Issue: 2;
Start page: 419;
Date: 2013;
Original page

Keywords: abiotic stress | climate change | landraces | wild relatives | genomics

Extreme climatic variation is predicted with climate change this century. In many cropping regions, the crop environment will tend to be warmer with more irregular rainfall and spikes in stress levels will be more severe. The challenge is not only to raise agricultural production for an expanding population, but to achieve this under more adverse environmental conditions. It is now possible to systematically explore the genetic variation in historic local landraces by using GPS locators and world climate maps to describe the natural selection for local adaptation, and to identify candidate germplasm for tolerances to extreme stresses. The physiological and biochemical components of these expressions can be genomically investigated with candidate gene approaches and next generation sequencing. Wild relatives of crops have largely untapped genetic variation for abiotic and biotic stress tolerances, and could greatly expand the available domesticated gene pools to assist crops to survive in the predicted extremes of climate change, a survivalomics strategy. Genomic strategies can assist in the introgression of these valuable traits into the domesticated crop gene pools, where they can be better evaluated for crop improvement. The challenge is to increase agricultural productivity despite climate change. This calls for the integration of many disciplines from eco-geographical analyses of genetic resources to new advances in genomics, agronomy and farm management, underpinned by an understanding of how crop adaptation to climate is affected by genotype × environment interaction.
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