Genomic Study Shows How Crops Will Cope with Climate Change
A 28 year-long genomics study revealed how crops will respond to the rising temperatures associated with climate change. Over the study, period the temperature in Israel, where the study was conducted, increased by 2°C, even higher than the 1.5°C global temperature increase limit agreed in the Paris Climate Change Agreement.
Food scarcity will be one of the most devastating impacts of climate change, that will make it increasingly difficult to grow enough food to feed the growing population. The impact of temperature, rainfall and pollution on crops has been well documented, although not from a genetic perspective. However, the genetic impact on crops of rising temperatures can provide vital information on different species will cope with climate change.
After 28 years of global warming, the crop populations had lower genetic diversity. Having high genetic diversity allows populations to be more resistant to changing conditions. The crops also carried forward more mutational burdens across each generation and had elevated selection for certain traits. Some species did not survive the increase in temperature change.
However, it was also observed that some species still kept the ability to acquire beneficial mutations that will allow them to adapt effectively to changing conditions.
Seed banks around the world are being created to conserve different species of wheat, especially those that have not been farmed. It is possible that these species could be used for future genetic engineering efforts to ensure the genetic diversity of farmed crops to make them more resistant to climate change.