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GPC Meeting: Enhancing global collaborations in crop science

The pressing challenges of increased food security in a changing climate cannot be met by researchers and policymakers working in silos. While there is excellent work being done on a national scale, we need to facilitate increased international collaboration in research. For many regions of the world – often where food and climate challenges are greatest – such collaborations and the funding models to support them are not well developed. The global community needs to coordinate research for impact, which necessitates new strategies for fostering international collaboration, as well as the improvement of mechanisms for funding and embedding policy and communication programs into such initiatives. While not without its challenges, there are examples across the globe of progress in this front in the fields of photosynthesis and crop improvement. What is special about the way that these collaborations have come together that has attracted generous international funding? Can we develop these models further in other research areas?

This forum, held at the 2018 ASA-CSSA meeting in Baltimore, Maryland, USA, brings together leading researchers and policy-makers who will provide exemplars of new models for large-scale integrative research and the lessons learned from their implementation. Attendees will also have the opportunity to discuss the issues presented in breakout groups throughout the day, with the aim of bringing forward a possible collaborative project/funding model that addresses the global challenges of food insecurity and climate change.

Date: November 2018

Location: Baltimore, Maryland, USA


Scientists engineer shortcut for photosynthetic glitch, boost crop growth 40%

Plants convert sunlight into energy through photosynthesis; however, most crops on the planet are plagued by a photosynthetic glitch, and to deal with it, evolved an energy-expensive process called photorespiration that drastically suppresses their yield potential. Researchers from the University of Illinois and U.S. Department of Agriculture Agricultural Research Service report in the journal Science that crops engineered with a photorespiratory shortcut are 40 percent more productive in real-world agronomic conditions.

Should researchers engineer a spicy tomato?

The chili pepper, from an evolutionary perspective, is the tomato's long-lost spitfire cousin. They split off from a common ancestor 19 million years ago but still share some of the same DNA. While the tomato plant went on to have a fleshy, nutrient-rich fruit yielding bountiful harvests, the more agriculturally difficult chili plant went defensive, developing capsaicinoids, the molecules that give peppers their spiciness, to ward off predators.

European wheat lacks climate resilience

The climate is not only warming, it is also becoming more variable and extreme. Such unpredictable weather can weaken global food security if major crops such as wheat are not sufficiently resilient – and if we are not properly prepared.