Genetics of abiotic stress tolerance

Published on December 1, 2013   50 min

A selection of talks on Genetics & Epigenetics

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Hello. My name's Mark Tester, and I've been asked to talk about the genetics of abiotic stress tolerance. I work primarily on salinity tolerance, 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 tolerance, high temperature tolerance, 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 stability, which we'll discuss on the next slide.