Meeting food security challenges is a high priority in many developing countries. North African countries are among those with the highest per capita wheat consumption in the world and chronic grain deficits. Climate change scenarios predict decrease of rainfall and increase of temperature with negative impact on crop production and hence food security. Along with adoption of modern technologies, breeding higher yielding and more climate change resilient wheat varieties is widely seen as a tool that can sustain past yield gains and food production increases. Durum wheat production in Tunisia greatly benefited from the green revolution ingredients. Continued breeding lead to replacement of the early semi dwarf varieties with higher yielding, better disease resistant and more drought tolerant ones that have positively impacted yield at farmer and national level. Monitoring gains from increased yield potential and resistance to the most damaging foliar diseases, mainly septoria leaf blotch, leaf rust and stripe rust, showed that grain yield of recently released varieties is up to four times that of the tall late maturing landraces grown before the 1970's and up to 2.5 times that of varieties of the early years of the green revolution. Chlorophyll content, green leaf duration, deeper root development from diverse donors including wild wheat relatives and grain yield are being integrated in the breeding program for the selection of more drought and heat stress tolerant durum cultivars
Displaying 1 - 3 of 3
This paper offers projections of potential effects of climate change on rusts of wheat and how we should factor in a changing climate when planning for the future management of these diseases. Even though the rusts of wheat have been extensively studied internationally, there is a paucity of information on the likely effects of a changing climate on the rusts and hence on wheat production. Due to the lack of published empirical research we relied on the few published studies of other plant diseases, our own unpublished work and relevant information from the vast literature on rusts of wheat to prepare this overview. Potential risks from a changing climate were divided into three major groups: increased loss from wheat rusts, new rust races evolving faster and the reduced effectiveness of rust resistances. Increased biomass of wheat crops grown in the presence of elevated CO2 concentrations and higher temperatures will increase the leaf area available for attack by the pathogen. This combined with increased speed of the pathogen’s life cycle, may increase the rate of epidemic development in many environments. Likewise, should the effects of climate change result in more conducive conditions for rust development there will also be a corresponding increase in the rate of evolution of new and presumably virulent races. The effectiveness of some rust resistance genes are influenced by temperature, crop development stage and even nitrogen status of the host. It is likely that direct and indirect changes on the host from climate change may influence the effectiveness of some of these resistance genes. Currently the likely effects of climate change on the effectiveness of disease resistance is not known and since disease resistance breeding is a long term strategy it is important to determine if any of the important genes may become less effective due to climate change. Studies must be made to acquire new information on the rust disease triangle to increase the adaptive capacity of wheat under climate change. BGRI leadership is needed to broker research on rust evolution and the durability of resistance under climate change.
Accelerated climate change affects components of complex biological interactions differentially, often causing changes that are difficult to predict. Crop yield and quality are affected by climate change directly, and indirectly, through diseases that themselves will change but remain important. These effects are difficult to dissect and model as their mechanistic bases are generally poorly understood. Nevertheless, a combination of integrated modelling from different disciplines and multi-factorial experimentation will advance our understanding and prioritisation of the challenges. Food security brings in additional socio-economic, geographical and political factors. Enhancing resilience to the effects of climate change is important for all these systems and functional diversity is one of the most effective targets for improved sustainability.