Agricultural crop production has to be increased by 70% by 2050 to ensure food security and meet the challenge of feeding a population of 9.3 billion. Given the fact that most suitable land has already been used, this can be achieved only by increasing crop tolerance to major environmental constraints (drought; flooding; salinity; nutrient deficiencies and toxicities) and shifting production into marginal areas previously considered as not suitable for agriculture. This will be a great challenge, as the above stresses already cause estimated yield loss in excess of $120 billion per annum. The only way to meet this challenge is by identifying key genes and mechanisms mediating plant sensing, signalling and adaptation to adverse environmental conditions, and then using modern genetic tools to modify them, to enable better plant performance. The papers selected for this Functional Plant Biology Virtual Issue contribute to this task and, therefore, may be of substantial interest to readers.
Professor Sergey Shabala, Editor-in-Chief