$24M grant aims to combat climate threats to global wheat crop

Cornell Chronicle [2017-03-17]

Ronnie Coffman, center, international plant breeder and director of the newly funded Delivering Genetic Gain in Wheat project, meets with Ethiopian farmers.

Ronnie Coffman, center, international plant breeder and director of the newly funded Delivering Genetic Gain in Wheat project, meets with Ethiopian farmers.

Climate-change-induced heat stress and disease pathogens migrating across borders threaten the world’s wheat supply and food security in conflict zones of Africa and the Middle East. To expand the scope of a global partnership to combat these threats, Cornell University has been awarded a $24 million grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

The grant, Delivering Genetic Gain in Wheat (DGGW), will mitigate serious threats to wheat brought about by climate change and develop and deploy new strains of heat tolerant wheat that resist wheat rusts and other diseases.

“Over the last eight years, we have built a global consortium of wheat scientists and farmers whose efforts have so far prevented the global epidemics of Ug99 stem rust predicted back in 2005,” said Ronnie Coffman, international plant breeder and director of Cornell’s International Programs in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, who leads the consortium. “We have improved wheat resistance to stem and yellow rust globally and increased global yields.

“In the new DGGW grant we will use modern tools of comparative genomics and big data to develop and deploy varieties of wheat that incorporate climate resiliency as well as improved disease resistance for smallholder farmers in these politically vulnerable regions.”

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Category: News & Events

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