• Open Access

Production of Low Input and Stress Tolerant Wheat Germplasm through the Use of Biodiversity Residing in the Wild Relatives


S. Farooq, Nuclear Institute for Agriculture and Biology (NIAB), Faisalabad, Pakistan. E-mail: niab@fsd.paknet.com.pk


Agricultural biodiversity adds value to crop, induces resistance, contributes enormously to human foodstuff, removes fear of genetic uniformity and ensure food security of the world. For these reasons, NIAB initiated a programme on collection, evaluation, and utilisation of agro-biodiversity related with wheat and wheat wild relatives. The focus of the programme was on the addition of stress tolerance from wild species to cultivated wheat. The objectives were i) to have a permanent source of stress tolerant germplasm, ii) to facilitate availability of such germplasm for environment friendly, profitable and sustainable agriculture on stressed lands and iii) to ensure safety of biodiversity (through gene conservation) for the stability of future agriculture. During 1998—2001, we tested wheat lines developed by using biodiversity residing in the Aegilops species. The material was tested in an area that required stress tolerant germplasm. Planting was done in fields where cotton was already growing up to the stage of second picking. The inputs included only half the amount of recommended dose of fertiliser, approximately half of the normal irrigation, no herbicide and two applications of compost. Two of the lines tested in these trials out-yielded all existing wheat cultivars traditionally grown in this area and convinced the farmers that biodiversity does play a role in adding value to the existing material, making it suitable for specific requirement. This paper describes, in detail, the significance of the plant material for the area, practical achievements, acceptance by the farmers and economic feasibility of the stress tolerant material developed at NIAB.