LONDON, Aug. 27 (UPI) — British scientists say their research on the genome of wheat could help farmers develop new strains with greater yields to combat food shortages.
Researchers say the recent genome sequencing will help breeders and farmers select traits for a healthy yield and could identify specific genes for useful traits such as tolerance to drought, the BBC reported Friday.
In many countries, droughts and floods have harmed the wheat harvest in recent years.
Russia, one of the biggest producers, banned all wheat exports after severe drought and wildfires destroyed crops around the country recently.
The move raised worldwide concerns about possible wheat shortages and has sent wheat prices soaring.
Major floods in Pakistan and mudslides in China have caused wheat prices to rise even further, and Canada and a number of other countries predict their wheat harvest could be much lower than last year due to weather conditions.
Sequencing the wheat genome is a way to develop more productive, resource-efficient varieties of wheat, said Matthew Reynolds of the International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center.
“Such varieties are crucial to meet increased demand from growing and more prosperous populations, confront the challenges of climate change and looming scarcities of land, water, and fertilizer and avoid global food shortages and price spikes that particularly harm the poor,” he said.
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