TP Martin

Tackling the world’s food security crisis together

Climate science: wheat can’t stand the heat

Rothamsted Research

Researchers: Micha Semenov and Peter Shewry

Funders: BBSRC; Office of Science, US Department of Energy

The threat increased heat may pose to crop production has been investigated by Rothamsted Research.

New analysis, with strategic funding from the BBSRC, indicates that a more serious threat for wheat production in Europe may result from an increase in the frequency and magnitude of heat stress around flowering.

Wheat is an important crop in temperate regions, including Europe, and is the staple food for millions of humans and their livestock. This heat stress could potentially lead to significant yield losses for heat-sensitive wheat varieties commonly grown in northern Europe.

The scientists used a wheat simulation model combined with local-scale climate models to predict the impacts of climate change on European winter wheat yield. This research highlights the need for crop scientists and breeders to consider the development of wheat varieties that are resistant to high temperature around flowering.