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World nourishment at risk of being diminished: Wild cereals threatened by global warming
Date:2/23/2012

A 28-year comparative study of wild emmer wheat and wild barley populations has revealed that these progenitors of cultivated wheat and barley, which are the best hope for crop improvement, have undergone changes over this period of global warming. The changes present a real concern for their being a continued source of crop improvement.

Wheats and barleys are the staple food for humans and animal feed around the world, and their wild progenitors have undergone genetic changes over the last 28 years that imply a risk for crop improvement and food production, reveals a new study. "The earliness in flowering time and genetic changes that are taking place in these important progenitor wild cereals, most likely due to global warming, can negatively affect the wild progenitors. These changes could thereby indirectly deteriorate food production," says Prof. Eviatar Nevo of the Insitute of Evolution at the University of Haifa who directed the study.

Wheats are the universal cereals of Old World agriculture.The progenitors, wild emmer wheat and wild barley, which originated in the Near East, provide the genetic basis for ameliorating wheat and barley cultivars, which as earlier studies have shown, are themselves under constant genetic erosion and increasing susceptibility to environmental stresses.

The new study set out to examine whether the wild cereal progenitors are undergoing evolutionary changes due to climate change that would impact future food production. It was was headed by Prof. Nevo, along with Dr. Yong-Bi Fu from Canada, and Drs.Beiles, Pavlicek and Tavasi, and Miss Khalifa from the University of Haifa's Institute of Evolution, and recently published in the prestigious scientific journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS).

Ten wild emmer wheat and ten wild barley populations from different climates and habitats across Israel were sampled first in 1980 and then again at the same sites in
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Contact: Rachel Feldman
rfeldman@univ.haifa.ac.il
972-482-88722
University of Haifa
Source:Eurekalert  

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