Periodic Reporting for period 1 - HEAT-WHEAT (Highly Efficient and Thermotolerant Wheat)
Reporting period: 2016-09-01 to 2018-08-31
The world is facing more frequent and extreme heat waves. This will have a detrimental impact on important food crops like wheat that are susceptible to heat stress. One of the most susceptible parts of a plant to heat stress is photosynthesis, the ability of the plant to make sugars from water and carbon dioxide fixed from the atmosphere. If photosynthesis is impaired then growth and yield of crops will also be impaired and food production will decline, a major problem considering the need of humans to feed a growing world population.
Importance to society
Wheat along with rice would be one of the greatest contributors to human calorie uptake across the world. Wheat is a selectively bread temperate grass and as such is not able to sustain photosynthesis, growth and yield when temperatures are much above 35 degrees celsius. Considering wheat is grown in temperate climates in Europe, Russia and North America, and such regions are expected to face higher average and more extreme and frequent heat waves, the ability of wheat to maintain current or improved levels of yield will heavily depend on the ability of the crop to withstand these periods of heat stress. In other words, without improved heat stress tolerance of wheat growth and yield the ability of humans to meet the growing food intake of the global human population will be difficalt.
Objectives of project
One of the key components of the susceptibility of photosynthesis to heat stress is an enzyme named Rubisco activase (Rca) which allows the carbon dioxide fixing enzyme Rubisco to stay functional. The key objective of the project was to enhance the thermal stability of the Rca enzyme in wheat so that wheat photosynthesis, growth and ultimately yield will be less susceptible to heat stress.