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Breeding requires the assessment of genetic diversity for adaptation, and the selection and recombining of genetic resources into new varieties for production systems for projected future climate and atmospheric conditions. Hence, research on the potential incidence and intensity of biotic stresses, and the opportunities for breeding solutions, is essential to prioritise investment, as the consequences could be catastrophic. The values of breeding activities to adapt to the five major abiotic effects of climate change heat, drought, waterlogging, salinity, and elevated CO 2 are more difficult to rank, and vary with species and production area, with impacts on both yield and quality of product.


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Although there is a high likelihood of future increases in atmospheric CO 2 concentrations and temperatures across Australia, there is uncertainty about the direction and magnitude of rainfall change, particularly in the northern farming regions. For most cultivated plant species, it remains to be demonstrated how much genetic variation exists for these traits and what value can be delivered via commercial varieties.

Biotechnology-based breeding technologies marker-assisted breeding and genetic modification will be essential to accelerate genetic gain, but their application requires additional investment in the understanding, genetic characterisation, and phenotyping of complex adaptive traits for climate-change conditions.

Additional keywords: biosecurity, crop improvement, crop modelling, elevated CO 2 , stress, high temperature, water use efficiency. Plant sciences, sustainable farming systems and food quality.

Case studies

Shopping Cart: empty. Search our journals. Crop wild relatives contain a multitude of genes of potential value for plant breeding. Among these are many traits that are relevant for climate change adaptation. Crop wild relative species are distributed across a wide range of habitats, including mountains, deserts, grasslands, salt marshes, and rainforests.

Crop Responses to Environment: Adapting to Global Climate Change, Second Edition

They have evolved many different strategies for surviving in these diverse climatic conditions. The genetic traits that allow CWR species to thrive in different, sometimes, extreme habitats, represent a valuable resource for plant breeding in the context of climate change. Climate change is projected to increase the frequency and severity of droughts, increase growing season temperatures, increase soil salinity in coastal areas, and contribute to the spread of pests and diseases.

For example:. CWR species also have the potential to contribute to climate change mitigation through the provision of traits that allow crops to be grown less carbon-intensively mainly through increased efficiency of input use. For example, using crop wild relatives to introgress a trait for nitrogen use efficiency into a given crop could allow the reduction of fertilizer use, thus lowering the overall carbon-intensity of growing that crop.