Improving the abiotic stress tolerance of food crops

Autores UPV
Año
Revista JOURNAL OF BIOTECHNOLOGY

Abstract

Drought and soil salinity are the major environmental factors that reduce crop yields worldwide. Global climate change will worsen these adverse conditions in many regions, increasing as well the scarcity of new arable land and irrigation water, thereby exacerbating the problem. The improvement of abiotic stress tolerance of our major crops should significantly contribute to the large and rapid increase in crop roductivity needed to feed a growing world population. Traditional breeding has met limited success in developing drought or salt-tolerant varieties, due to the complexity of tolerance traits. Similarly, genetic engineering has not yet delivered commercial stress-tolerant ¿biotech¿ (GM) crops, with the exception of a drought-resistant maize. However, the intensive research that is being carried out, with promising results, will no doubt led to the improvement of crop abiotic stress tolerance in the foreseeable future. A complementary strategy will be based on the domestication of wild plants naturally resistant to drought and/or salinity ¿ xerophytes, halophytes ¿ to transform them in useful ¿new¿ crops. There are many candidate taxa that could be cultivated in marginal soils without the need of good-quality water for irrigation ¿ with the added advantage that they will not compete for limited resources with our present standard crops