Developing Plants That Can Handle Stress
There have long been treatments to help humans cope with stress, and now there is help for plants, too: Dr. Abel Rosado, Canada Research Chair in Plant Physiology and Cellular Dynamics, is studying how to breed stress-tolerant crops that will produce high yields even under adverse environmental conditions.
Plants are continuously exposed to a number of environmental stressors that can limit their growth or even cause their death. These include high salinity, drought and extreme temperatures—all serious challenges that can affect the distribution of crops and diminish their performance worldwide to as little as 20 per cent of their potential. Global climate change will amplify these challenges, making stress resistance in crops essential to the world's ability to feed itself.
As a first step in the development of stress-tolerant crops, Rosado and his team are studying how plants adjust their behaviour to changing environmental conditions. More specifically, they are exploring the mechanisms that help plant cells maintain their structural integrity during periods of stress. They are also identifying the cellular components that help plant cells adapt to adverse conditions.
In the current global agricultural context—where food production is not increasing quickly enough to meet the ever-growing demand—Rosado’s work will help by improving the performance of crops grown in less than ideal conditions, and will support sustainable agricultural development by helping us learn how to make more efficient use of farm land.