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Wheat DNA could breed 'climate proof' crops

Words by Abi Scaife

DNA from an exotic type of wheat could be crucial in making crops ‘climate proof’.

Tell us more.

Years of selective breeding have made wheat vulnerable to climate change - but a new research project is has changed that.

Research from the Earlham Institute in Norwich, in collaboration with the International Maize and Wheat Improvement Centre (CIMMYT), has taken a closer look at wheat by comparing 149 different varieties of wheat.

What did they find?

The wheat compared varied from widely-used lines to those selectively bred to include DNA from wild relatives.

The seeds were sown later in the season, to force them to grow in hotter conditions.

The study found that the plants bred with exotic DNA had a 50 per cent higher yield over wheat without this DNA - meaning they were able to harvest more. 

What is even more important, is that these over-achieving crops didn’t perform any worse under normal conditions.

What does this mean?

Basically, it means that wheat bred to include this wild DNA will be able to cope better with the planet’s rising temperatures, making it much more capable of thriving in our unpredictable climate.

That’s a big win for our Weetabix - and the planet.

This article aligns with the UN SDG Climate Action.

This article aligns with the following UN SDGs

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