How to adapt durum wheat when the environment tries everything to kill it
Durum wheat is the tenth most important crop in the world, but its cultivation is mostly limited to harsh, arid, and heat prone marginal lands. Breeding for tolerance to these conditions is often considered the most strategic approach to ensure adaptation, especially when paired with best agronomical practices. The word 'adaptation' summarizes all the research efforts conducted to identify the many traits controlling the mechanisms for withstanding or escaping the traceries of the environment. It can be summarized as "GGE vs E". The durum wheat breeding program of ICARDA deploys targeted phenotyping methods in combination with genomic scans to dissect these 'adaptive' traits into simple loci. These loci can then be pyramided via a combination of international field testing, markers assisted selection, genetically-driven crossing schemes, and genomic selection to derive climate-ready cultivars. Here, several examples of this approach are presented and their implications for 'adaptation' are discussed.