The threat of climate change limiting global agricultural productivity and economic development is becoming more real each year. Change in climate can place crops under stress due to rising temperatures and increased demand for water. Changing environmental conditions may also increase plant stress by intensifying plant pests and diseases.
The Penn State researcher is currently working on nutrient efficient seeds – for maize and common bean, the staple crops in east Africa – that will help plants grow with less nutrients and water. Jonathan Lynch, professor of plant nutrition at Penn State, and his colleagues have identified certain root traits that help plants thrive in harsh conditions. He says breeders can select for these traits and develop crop varieties that will grow better in those harsh conditions.