Translational research impacting on crop productivity in drought-prone environments.
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Conventional breeding for drought-prone environments (DPE) has been complemented by using exotic germplasm to extend crop gene pools and physiological approaches that consider water uptake (WU), water-use efficiency (WUE), and harvest index (HI) as drivers of yield. Drivers are associated with proxy genetic markers, such as carbon-isotope discrimination for WUE, canopy temperature for WU, and anthesis-silking interval for HI in maize. Molecular markers associated with relevant quantitative trait loci are being developed. WUE has also been increased through combining understanding of root-to-shoot signaling with deficit irrigation. Impacts in DIPE will be accelerated by combining proven technologies with promising new strategies such as marker-assisted selection, and genetic transformation, as well as conservation agriculture that can increase WU while averting soil degradation.
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