World leading research, led by Dr Saman Seneweera of the University of Southern Queensland’s (USQ) Centre for Crop Health, hopes to keep our future wheat and rice crops healthy in the face of dire climate change predictions.
Carbon dioxide levels in our atmosphere, currently at 400 parts per million (ppm), are expected to reach 550ppm by 2050. This kind of increase can reduce protein and micronutrient levels in wheat and rice crops by up to 15%. In an effort to combat this, the USQ team has been working hard to identify particular genes that can maintain current nutrient levels as the climate changes. Once the genes are found, they can go into pre-breeding stocks to be commercially developed in the future.
In addition to research into maintaining nutrient content, the team is also working to create strains of rice and wheat that can withstand the other impacts of climate change, such as extended droughts and flooding.