Crop breeding for the development of climate resilient crops: Approaches at ICARDA
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Crop production has been challenged by abiotic and biotic constraints since its inception. However, the magnitude and intensity of these stresses are increasing dramatically due to climate change causing recurrent droughts, increased temperature (heat) and emergence of new diseases and pests. Past and present experiences indicate the potential of crop breeding to combat climate change through the development of crop varieties with resistance/tolerance to drought, heat, and major diseases and insect pests. To this end, the crop breeding program at ICARDA applies both conventional and molecular approaches including focused identification of germplasm strategy (FIGS), targeting mega environments, shuttle breeding, doubled haploids, marker assisted selection, and key location phenotyping. In the last five years, more than 7500 sets of 55 nurseries from the seven ICARDA mandated crops have been distributed through International Nurseries (IN) and 154 varieties of ICARDA origin from seven crops namely barley (25), chickpea (27), durum wheat (27), Faba bean (10), lentil (28), spring bread wheat (25) and facultative winter wheat (12) have been released by the national programs of the Central-West Asia and North Africa (CWANA) region. Using FIGS, genome wide association-mapping studies (GWAS) using single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNP) and diversity array technology-sequencing (DArTseq) markers have been carried out in wheat, barley and chickpea. GWAS studies are complemented by quantitative trait loci (QTL) mapping analysis in bi-parental mapping populations. Examples of identified marker-trait association of climate change related traits will be discussed.