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Hunt for 'climate-ready' crops accelerates as organizations search seed collections worldwide
Date:5/21/2009

er than what are now considered extreme temperatures. New data also show steadily dryer conditions in many regions. But there is widespread concern, particularly in the developing world, that plant breeding efforts are not moving fast enough to develop new varieties that can withstand these stresses and enable farmers to avoid steep drops in food production.

The Trust, in partnership with the UN Foundation and with the support of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, is supporting work to probe crop collections for critical traits such as drought or heat tolerance. GCP is offering funding for scientists to use molecular mapping technology to identify the "DNA fingerprint" of the crop samples. The UN Food and Agriculture Organization's Global Partnership Initiative for Plant Breeding Capacity (GIPB) is supporting efforts by plant breeders to use such information to breed new, high-yielding varieties adapted to conditions on the ground.

"It's not enough to simply identify the trait," said Humberto Gmez, the Coordinator of GCP's Genotyping Support Service. "To produce a viable crop variety, one has to go further and also conduct molecular analysis and then the breeding work. This work can take up to ten years from the point of discovering the trait to having a new variety actually growing in a farmer's field. We're seeking to speed up that process by supporting breeders in the developing world."

"Together, these efforts will increase our ability to be ready for climate change," said Elcio Guimaraes of GIPB. "It will be much easier for young plant breeders to identify and use promising traits that arm crops against climate change."

The grants cover projects initiated by scientists in Africa, Asia, the Americas and Europe. They involve a range of crops and seek a variety of important plant traits. For example:

  • Scientists in Portugal and Angola are jointly investigating the ability of 100 samples of native or "lan
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Contact: Carol Lin Vieira
cvieira@burnesscommunications.com
401-714-0821
Burness Communications
Source:Eurekalert

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