USAID Helps Fund Research for Heat-Tolerant Wheat
As part of the United States’ initiative to ensure food security, Feed the Future, USAID is funding research at Washington State University that will aim to create heat-resistant varieties of wheat better suited for harsh climates around the world that struggle with adequate food sources. Researchers hope to obtain the first temperature-tolerant breed of wheat within five years.

Also taking part in funding the research is the Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR) and the Directorate of Wheat Research (DWR).

Because a wheat plant’s productivity falls significantly at temperatures above 82 degrees, researchers will study certain breeds of wheat to determine and then isolate the genes associated with the ability to tolerate higher temperatures. The research will take place in the North Indian River Plain, where issues such as food scarcity and a booming population of over 1 billion people are stretching resources extremely thin.

Although the North Indian River Plain will be the focus of the research, participants acknowledge the impact that heat-resistant varieties of wheat can have in a world of impending climate change and global warming, coupled with increasing populations on nearly every continent.

Kulvinder Gill, project director, stated “The newly developed ‘Climate Resilient’ cultivars will be better equipped to deal with these challenges. The project will benefit all wheat-growing regions of the world, as heat during flowering is an issue in most of the wheat-growing regions.”

Christina Kindlon

Source: USAID

US and India Collaborate on Wheat ResearchThe United States and India have teamed up to develop new wheat varieties. This multimillion-dollar project aims to create new types of wheat that can live in high temperatures. In response to global warming, there is an overwhelming need for such wheat varieties since this plant does not easily adjust to changes in temperature. Given that wheat is a significant component of people’s diets around the world, scientists recognize the urgency behind this project.

The US Agency for International Development (USAID), the Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR) and the Directorate of Wheat Research (DWR) are funding the experiment. Although scientists from the US and India are involved, the project is led by an Indian American from Washington State University.

The new wheat varieties will help with the U.S. and Indian anti-hunger campaigns and the US’s Feed the Future food security program. Hopefully, we will begin to see the new wheat relatively soon. USAID has set a goal of developing the first set of “climate-resilient varieties” within five years.

As the planet continues to get warmer and the population increases, it is vital for global food security that the scientists are successful. The current wheat becomes less productive when temperatures are about 82 degrees Fahrenheit and lose four percent productivity with every few degrees of increase in temperature.

The method behind developing heat resistant wheat is complicated. “Researchers will combine conventional breeding and newly developed breeding tools to identify genes or sets of genes associated with heat tolerance, a rarely studied trait with outsized importance in yields,” writes Business Line.

Together, scientists from Washington State University, Kansas State University, and DuPont Pioneer, a seed manufacturer, along with India’s Directorate of Wheat Research and National Bureau of Plant Genetics Resources and four other Indian universities, are confident they can successfully develop the new wheat within five years.

– Mary Penn

Source: Business Line
Photo: Agriculture Corner