Wheat is the most widely cultivated crop in the world. It makes up a whopping 20% of global calorie and protein intake. At the same time, future predictions about this grain on which we so depend are worrisome. Not only is demand expected to eclipse current wheat production, but climate change has the potential to greatly impact wheat yields. To combat these concerns, scientists at CIMMYT and the International Wheat Improvement Network, in collaboration with farmers around the world, are working hard to incorporate climate resilience genetic traits into wheat. Wheat’s wild relatives, it turns out, hold the key to important drought and heat-resistant traits. Some promising traits, both in wild relatives and exotic wheats, include deep roots and high radiation use efficiency, which allows plants to take full advantage of increased sun for photosynthesis. Transferring these traits into modern wheat, accelerated using molecular genetic tools, have led to successful field trials in South Asia and the Sonoran Desert. Despite these exciting findings, much work still needs to be done to secure the climate-resilient future of wheat.  Only a small fraction of the climate-adaptation genetic potential within wheat has been identified. After identifying traits, traits must be incorporated into modern wheat production and field testing must be performed to ensure real-world success. This requires considerable expertise, time, and resources. Foresight approaches can help us understand the potential benefits of these traits, and, in the shorter term,  “crowd source” competitions might improve and accelerate this process. Although not without challenges, the process of making wheat more resistant to climate change and the lessons learned throughout can be applied to other important cereals. Read the full brief to find out more

Find the full brief on “The Future of Wheat” here: https://doi.org/10.31235/osf.io/hvd4e