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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 1999 May 25;96(11):5937-43.

Plant genetic resources: what can they contribute toward increased crop productivity?

Author information

  • 1International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center (CIMMYT), Lisboa 27, Apartado. Postal 6-641, 06600 Mexico City, Mexico. D.Hoisington@GGIAR.org

Abstract

To feed a world population growing by up to 160 people per minute, with >90% of them in developing countries, will require an astonishing increase in food production. Forecasts call for wheat to become the most important cereal in the world, with maize close behind; together, these crops will account for approximately 80% of developing countries' cereal import requirements. Access to a range of genetic diversity is critical to the success of breeding programs. The global effort to assemble, document, and utilize these resources is enormous, and the genetic diversity in the collections is critical to the world's fight against hunger. The introgression of genes that reduced plant height and increased disease and viral resistance in wheat provided the foundation for the "Green Revolution" and demonstrated the tremendous impact that genetic resources can have on production. Wheat hybrids and synthetics may provide the yield increases needed in the future. A wild relative of maize, Tripsacum, represents an untapped genetic resource for abiotic and biotic stress resistance and for apomixis, a trait that could provide developing world farmers access to hybrid technology. Ownership of genetic resources and genes must be resolved to ensure global access to these critical resources. The application of molecular and genetic engineering technologies enhances the use of genetic resources. The effective and complementary use of all of our technological tools and resources will be required for meeting the challenge posed by the world's expanding demand for food.

PMID:
10339521
[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
PMCID:
PMC34209
Free PMC Article
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