Submitted to: Popular Publication
Publication Type: Popular publication
Publication Acceptance Date: 3/15/2007
Publication Date: 5/1/2007
Citation: Bebeli, P.J., Gustafson, J.P. 2007. Improving the Potential for Increased World Food Production. Popular Publication. p. 42. Interpretive Summary:
Technical Abstract: A stable world food production is completely dependent on the ability of people to grow, harvest, and utilize plants as a source of food. The United Nations estimates that in order to feed the world’s increasing population that by the year 2040 agriculture will have to increase food production by approximately 60%. There are two main approaches scientists can take to increase world food production with the first one being to increase production on the land currently under production. The second is to initiate and improve food production on land not currently being utilized. Regardless of which approach or combination of approaches is utilized, it is well known that approximately 40% of the arable land in the world capable of producing crops to feed mankind is affected by some form of abiotic stress due to the soils being too acid or saline for crop production. The main effect of aluminum toxicity, associated with acid soils, is the inability of root growth, which leads to diminished plant growth, and under extreme conditions even plant death. This has been clearly demonstrated in the world production of wheat, where the presence of aluminum and low pH soils has limited wheat production. Unfortunately, in the past seventy years scientists have not been able to identify and utilize new genes for improving the tolerance of wheat to improved production on acid soils. Therefore, scientists have had to initiate the screening of primitive landrace wheat cultivars and close relatives of wheat searching for new sources of genes, which will allow wheat to be produced on acid soils high in aluminum. The family of grasses to which wheat belongs is a large gene pool that can be accessed for wheat improvement. A collection of landrace wheat cultivars from Greece, Turkey, Israel, and Romania were collected and brought together at the Agricultural University of Athens. This collection has allowed us the opportunity to screen the wheat germplasm pool for new sources of tolerance to production on abiotic stressed soils high in aluminum and low in pH. In addition to screening the collection for tolerance to acid soils, the Agricultural University of Athens is screening the collection for tolerance to soil salinity, and for tolerance to other abiotic stresses such as boron.