Crops resistant to changes in climate?

A recent study says that these crops are a near possibility

Crops resistant to changes in climate?

One of the main challenges that climate change brings is the world's food security. If already hunger is a problem that plagues many people (815 million people, according to the Catholic NGO Manos Unidas), with the climatic changes brought by global warming this problem could worsen.

However, according to a study by the John Innes Centre (in Norwich, United Kingdom), the creation of crops resistant to temperatures is "an achievable dream". According to the research, there is a genetic link between the increase in temperature and the premature release of seeds in plants such as rapeseed, from which canola oil is obtained.

The research, led by Vinod Kumar and Professor Lars Ostergaard, revealed that premature seed release is more common at high temperatures in several plant species of the Brasiliaceae family, such as cauliflower, broccoli, and kale. According to the researchers, this brings the human being closer to the creation of crops with a better adaptability to the warmer temperatures.

"It's almost like there is a thermostat that controls the release of seeds, the better we know how it works, we could modify it in the future so that this release does not happen with an increase in temperature", explained Dr. Kumar, co-author of the study. This indicates, according to the scientist, that the "use of genetic tools to create crops resistant to temperature is an achievable dream".

Professor Ostergaard explained that "during the last 2 decades, scientists identified the genes that control this problem. However, it is not until today that we begin to understand the method or procedure and how it is affected by the environment and, in this case, the temperature".

The researchers monitored the development of the fruit in Arabidopsis plants (a genus of herbaceous plants of the Brasiliaceae family) at three different temperatures: 17, 22 and 27 degrees Celsius. The results of the study, published in the journal Molecular Plant, showed that there is an improvement in the flexibility of cell walls in tissue where seeds are released when there is an increase in temperature, which ends up accelerating the dispersion of their grains.

The study argues that "these results add the environmental factor to current knowledge, and provide an alternative for improving crops in the face of climate change".

The premature release of seeds is one of the main problems that affect the crops of rapeseed plants, which lose around 15 to 20% of their crops in the year because of this.

According to different private and governmental institutes, such as the Colombian Institute of Hydrology, Meteorology and Environmental Studies (IDEAM), the yields of many crops "could decrease significantly due to higher temperatures, as a consequence, for example, of the thermal and water stress of the shortening of the growing season and the greater presence of pests and diseases". For its part, ECLAC estimates that "as a result (of climate change) it is expected that the productivity of some important crops will decrease".

 

Latin American Post | Santiago Gómez Hernández

Translated from "¿Cultivos resistentes a los cambios de clima?"

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