Submitted to: Book Chapter
Publication Type: Book / Chapter
Publication Acceptance Date: October 20, 2012
Publication Date: N/A
Interpretive Summary: Crop production is challenging when plants are exposed to more extreme heat, cold, drought, or floods. Vegetable crop breeders have not given much attention to breeding plants to withstand these environmental stresses in past breeding efforts. With the development of large DNA databases, or genomics, for some vegetable crops, fundamental genetic information is becoming available for vegetable breeders to evaluate the prospects for improving vegetables resistant to environmental stress. The vegetable crop with the most advanced genomics database is tomato, and several experiments have been carried out to determine what genes are responsible for stress resistance. Several wild relatives of the cultivated tomato are known to have superior ability to withstand heat and drought, and efforts are underway to determine if these genes can be bred into the cultivated crop. Similar efforts are in progress for potato, peppers, cabbage, cucumbers, melons, beans, and lettuce, and research is planned for most major vegetable crops.
Technical Abstract: Vegetable crop improvement is being pursued extensively and globally by seed companies, NGOs, universities, and governmental organizations, including several CGIAR research centers. Globally and regionally, many crops are identified as vegetables, and among them, breeding and genomics is well-developed and advanced for a relative few. Breeding and genomics of vegetable crops for CRT (climate-resilience traits) has received less attention than for agronomic crops. This is due to the smaller scientific effort on a per crop basis, and major emphasis on quality traits that are essential for marketable yield. This emphasis on quality has resulted in production systems that include top priority access to irrigation (to minimize drought stress) and choice land (with minimal salt and nutrient stress) in climates with minimal heat stress. But as global production capacity must be increased to match population growth, as less prime production land is available due to salinization and desertification, and as climatic stress becomes more evident in many production regions, CRT is receiving increased attention in vegetable crop improvement programs.