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Protocols in ecological and environmental plant physiology

 

Article << Previous     |         Contents Vol 41(11)

Strategies to increase the yield and yield stability of crops under drought – are we making progress?

Neil C. Turner A G , Abraham Blum B , Mehmet Cakir C , Pasquale Steduto D , Roberto Tuberosa E and Neil Young F

A The University of Western Australia Institute of Agriculture and Centre for Plant Genetics and Breeding, M080, The University of Western Australia, 35 Stirling Highway, Crawley, WA 6009, Australia.
B Plantstress.com, PO Box 16246, Tel Aviv, Israel.
C School of Biological Sciences and Biotechnology, Faculty of Sustainability, Environmental and Life Sciences, Murdoch University, 90 South Street, Murdoch, WA 6150, Australia.
D Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations, Viale delle Terme di Caracalla, 00153 Rome, Italy.
E Department of Agricultural Sciences, University of Bologna, Viale Fanin 44, 40127 Bologna, Italy.
F Rural Mail Box 232, Kojonup, WA 6395, Australia.
G Corresponding author. Email: neil.turner@uwa.edu.au

Functional Plant Biology 41(11) 1199-1206 http://dx.doi.org/10.1071/FP14057
Submitted: 21 February 2014  Accepted: 2 April 2014   Published: 30 September 2014


 
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Abstract

The objective of the InterDrought conferences is to be a platform for debating key issues that are relevant for increasing the yield and yield stability of crops under drought via integrated approaches. InterDrought-IV, held in Perth, Australia, in September 2013, followed previous InterDrought conferences in bringing together researchers in agronomy, soil science, modelling, physiology, biochemistry, molecular biology, genetics and plant breeding. Key themes were (i) maximising water productivity; (ii) maximising dryland crop production; (iii) adaptation to water-limited environments; (iv) plant productivity under drought through effective water capture, improved transpiration efficiency, and growth and yield; and (v) breeding for water-limited environments through variety development, and trait-based genomics-assisted and transgenic approaches. This paper highlights some key issues and presents recommendations for future action. Improved agronomic interventions were recognised as being important contributors to improved dryland crop yields in water-limited environments, and new methods for exploring root architecture and water capture were highlighted. The increase in crop yields under drought through breeding and selection, the development of high-throughput phenotyping facilities for field-grown and pot-grown plants, and advances in understanding the molecular basis of plant responses and resistance to drought stress were recognised. Managed environment phenotyping facilities, a range of field environments, modelling, and genomic molecular tools are being used to select and release drought-resistant cultivars of all major crops. Delegates discussed how individuals and small teams can contribute to progress, and concluded that interdisciplinary research, linkages to international agricultural research centres, public–private partnerships and continuation of the InterDrought conferences will be instrumental for progress.

Additional keywords: agronomy, breeding, drought resistance, genomics, InterDrought, water-limited conditions.


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