My name's Mark Tester, and I've been
asked to talk about the genetics
of abiotic stress tolerance.
I work primarily on
so the focus will be on that.
However, of course, I'll try to
allow people to think more broadly
and to consider how the work that
we're doing on salinity tolerance
could be applied to studies on
drought tolerance, low temperature
and all those other abiotic
stresses that impinge
on the plant's daily life.
The context for a lot of work on
abiotic stress tolerance of plants
is the requirement to
increase food production.
This increase is
required in ways that
are much greater than previously.
In this slide, there's an analysis
of the global cereal production
over the last 50 years, in blue,
and you can see that empirically,
it is observed to be linear,
with an average increase of
about 32 million tons a year.
If we are to meet the FAO's
requirement for an increased food
production of 70% by 2050, we need
to increase this annual increase,
if you're still with me,
from 32 million tons a year
to 44 million tons sustained
over the next 40 years.
That's increasing the rate of
annual increase of food production
that's been going 50 years by 38%.
This is a very, very tall order, and
requires significant innovations.
One of the areas in
which we need to innovate
is to increase yield
we'll discuss on the next slide.
So we need to increase
the food supply.
There are only modest
opportunities left to increase
the area under cultivation.
There's, I think, also only
a modest theoretical chance
to increase the yield potential.
That's a little more arguable,
but I think it's a generalization
that has a fair bit of validity.
What we need to be able to do is
increase what is termed the yield
the ability of plants
to maintain their growth under
relative to optimal conditions, so
increase their ability to maintain
yield when there is a
low supply of water,
a high amount of
salinity in the subsoil,
increasing the ability of plants
to use nitrogen more efficiently.
To do this, and to do this at a rate
described in the previous slide,
we need a serious innovation.
We need to use the tools of
plant science and agronomy.
We need to be able
to have innovation
in modern plant breeding, such as
provided by quantitative genetics
And we probably also need to use
the tools of genetic modification.
The graph on this slide shows three
different varieties of wheat grown
at different sites in
Australia from relatively well-
watered on the right
too much less well-
watered on the left of the slide,
and it's showing here
three different varieties.
The one in green is better able
to maintain its yield as you go
to lower water supply sites
compared to the other two varieties,
in particular the one in red, where
there's a big decrease in yield.
What we're wanting to do
is find the genes that
are in such as that green variety,
which are better able to help
the plant maintain growth
under the low water conditions
and thus contribute to what we
would term this yield stability.