EL BATAN, Mexico (CIMMYT) – A new paper proposes researchers analyze environmental impacts through “envirotyping,” a new typing method which allows scientists to dissect complex environmental interactions to pinpoint climate change effects on crops. When used with genotyping and phenotyping – typing methods that assess the genetic and in-field performance of crops – researchers can more effectively adapt crops to future climates.
Climate change has significantly shifted weather patterns, which affects a number of farming conditions such as less reliable weather, extreme temperatures and declining soil and water quality. These extreme conditions bring a number of unexpected stresses to plants such as drought and new pests.
How a crop performs is largely dependent on the environment where it grows, making it crucial for breeders to analyze crops in growing areas. However, many breeding tools such as genetic mapping are based on the environment where phenotyping is performed, and phenotyping is often conducted under managed environmental conditions.
Envirotyping allows researchers to apply real-world conditions when assessing the performance of crops. It has a wide range of applications including the development of a four-dimensional profile for crop science, which would include a genotype, phenotype, envirotype and time.
Currently, envirotyping requires environmental factors to be collected over the course of multiple trials for use in contributing to crop modeling and phenotypic predictions. Widespread acceptance of this new typing method could help establish high-precision envirotyping, as well as create highly efficient precision breeding and sustainable crop production systems based on deciphered environmental impacts.
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