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Scientists search a 300-year-old collection of wheat to find a strain that can cope with climate change

Scientists are searching for 300-year-old wheat samples preserved at the Natural History Museum to find a variety hardy enough to meet the challenges of our changing climate.

The museum’s archives in London could hold the key to finding the hardiest type of wheat that could help feed the world as conditions become more unfavorable for modern wheat.

Of the 12,000 samples held by the museum, scientists will sequence the genomes of the most promising specimens to find the genetic secrets of the most resistant types of wheat.

The ancient varieties of wheat are stored in hundreds of old cardboard files in the museum’s vaults, containing dried leaves, stalks or ears of grain, and sometimes all three, from centuries ago.

Scientists are searching through 300-year-old samples of wheat preserved at the Natural History Museum to find a variety hardy enough to meet the challenges of our changing climate.

They are carefully labeled with information about where and when they were found.

Larissa Welton, who is part of the team digitizing the archive so it can be accessed online, told the BBC: ‘The collection dates back to the 1700s, including a specimen that was collected on Captain Cook’s first voyage to Australia.’

War in Ukraine, disease, and pests are endangering the supply of modern wheat that is used around the world as a staple in our diets, including bread, pasta, cereals, and cakes.

Scientists predict that a one-degree rise in climate temperature could decrease wheat production by an alarming 6.4 percent.

Pests and diseases are also causing major challenges, reducing the projected annual yield by about a fifth each year.

The Green Revolution of the 1950s meant that wheat strains that could provide the highest yield were favored, which has reduced the diversity of wheat varieties.

Scientists Predict That A One-Degree Rise In Climate Temperature Could Decrease Wheat Production By An Alarming 6.4 Percent.

Scientists predict that a one-degree rise in climate temperature could decrease wheat production by an alarming 6.4 percent.

With a smaller pool of wheat varieties, farmers have now lost access to the types of wheat that could survive the more extreme weather conditions we are seeing today as a result of climate change.

Last week, the world population reached eight billion and is projected to continue growing by a further 60% by 2050.

Scientists hope to find strains that grow in places where wheat does not currently grow to meet the demands of a booming world population.

Dr Matthew Clark, a geneticist at the Natural History Museum, told the BBC: “We want to be able to see if there are some of the things we’ve lost that we could basically capture and bring back to modern varieties.”

“For example, by looking at crops that were able to survive in more marginal areas, places with hot, dry climates, that could help more developing countries to increase their food supply,” Dr Clark added.

He explained that this could be done through traditional plant breeding, genetic modification or gene editing, a technique in which genes can be added, removed or replaced with great precision.

Scientists at the John Innes Center in Norwich are looking for solutions through old wheat samples.

Scientists Hope To Find Strains That Grow In Places Where Wheat Does Not Currently Grow To Meet The Demands Of A Booming World Population.

Scientists hope to find strains that grow in places where wheat does not currently grow to meet the demands of a booming world population.

His archive, called the Watkins landrace collection, contains samples from a hundred years ago and contains varieties from around the world.

Samples are stored at a cool 4°C to preserve the seeds, meaning they can be planted and grown.

John Innes’s team has had some success taking some of the oldest varieties of wheat and crossing them with modern ones.

Dr Simon Griffiths said: “Within this collection of old wheats, there are new resistances to that disease, fighting against this disease, and breeders are implementing them right now to defend this really important threat to wheat production. “.

The team is also interested in finding more nutritious wheat varieties.

‘What about what’s in the wheat? We know that we can increase the fiber content, the mineral content of wheat,’ he said.

“There’s so much diversity that modern wheat breeders haven’t fully exploited yet, and we think we can provide them with that.”

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Jacky

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