Sustainable food systems


Enhancing the use of crop genetic diversity to manage abiotic stress in agricultural production systems

There are still important unknowns concerning the diversity in local varieties managed by farmers subject to significant abiotic stress. These include:

  • Whether within farmers' use of diversity for managing abiotic stress: Does the use of stress-tolerant germplasm 'cost' lower yield? In the stressed environment? In benign environments? In both?
  • How different are the local crop varieties - phenotypically and genetically - with respect to resistance to the specific traits conferring stress tolerance or resistance?
  • Do the tolerant or resistant populations have sufficient diversity with respect to other characteristics, thus helping farmers to exploit their potential to develop material with further desirable characteristics such as pest resistance, nutritional aspects, and grain quality?
  • Do farmers manage such materials in a specific way to prevent dilution of their stress-resistance characteristics, and does this limit adaptability?