Researchers from Bioversity International and other research institutions have discovered a mostly unexplored source of wheat diversity that could offer valuable traits for climate change adaptation.
10 February 2016: Researchers from Bioversity International and other research institutions have discovered a mostly unexplored source of wheat diversity that could offer valuable traits for improving resilience of wheat production to the impacts of climate change.
A collaborative research project evaluated hundreds of landraces of durum wheat conserved by local framers in Ethiopia, and included genetic characterization to identify the underlying genetic diversity of expressed traits such as plant growth, morphology, resistance to pests and productivity. The results showed that such expressed traits were linked to previously unknown genetic sequences that represent an unexplored source of genetic diversity from which new breeds of wheat can be developed.
The researchers note that this diversity has significant potential to enhance the resilience of wheat production under impacts of climate change as the new genetic material can be used to enhance resistance to weather-related stress and pathogens. They also stress that the discovery is the result of combining the latest scientific methods with the traditional knowledge of the farmers who have been using and conserving the landraces.
The reserach project was conducted in collaboration between the Institute of Life Sciences at the Scuola Sant’Anna in Pisa, Italy, Bioversity International, the Mekelle University and the Amhara Region Agricultural Research Institute (ARARI), with the involvement of Ethiopian students from Sant’Anna’s Doctoral Programme in Agrobiodiversity. Bioversity International is a member of the CGIAR Consortium. [Bioversity Interational Press Release] [High-density Molecular Characterization and Association Mapping in Ethiopian Durum Wheat Landraces Reveals High Diversity and Potential for Wheat Breeding] [IISD RS Summaries of Other Research on Genetic Diversity and Climate Change Adaptation]