Exploring natural selection to guide breeding for agriculture



Climate change threatens reduced crop production and poses major challenges to food security. The breeding of climate-resilient crop varieties is increasingly urgent. Wild plant populations evolve to cope with changes in their environment due to the forces of natural selection. This adaptation may be followed over time in populations at the same site or explored by examining differences between populations growing in different environments or across an environmental gradient. Survival in the wild has important differences to the objective of agriculture to maximize crop yields. However, understanding the nature of adaptation in wild populations at the whole genome level may suggest strategies for crop breeding to deliver agricultural production with more resilience to climate variability.