Optimisation of water use by plants

A - Papers appearing in refereed journals

Parry, M. A. J., Habash, D. and Araus, J. L. 2004. Optimisation of water use by plants. Annals of Applied Biology. 144 (2), pp. 125-126.

AuthorsParry, M. A. J., Habash, D. and Araus, J. L.
Abstract

A European Commission sponsored conference on the "Optimisation of Water Use by Plants in the Mediterranean, OPTIMISE" (INCO-MED ICA3CT-2002-50005) was held in Palma de Mallorca, Balearic Islands, Spain in March 2003. The aim of the workshop was to bridge the gap between cutting edge research scientists working in molecular, genetic physiological and environmental research, with the end users of their science. More significantly, this workshop aimed to ensure that research scientists were fully aware of the needs of the politicians, policy makers and agronomists. OPTIMISE specifically targeted contact between the EU and the Mediterranean partner countries (Algeria, Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, Morocco, Palestine Authority, Syria, Tunisia and Turkey). Water is essential for sustaining human and environmental health. Where fresh water supplies are limited, sustainable development and stability require the efficient management of water resources. Water is already scarce in up to 10 Eastern and Southern Mediterranean countries. Agriculture is by far the largest user of water resources accounting for around 75% of consumption. However, forecasts suggest that demand for agricultural products will double to support population growth forecasts for the Mediterranean, but drought is the major constraint for growing many crops. The predicted change in climate as a result of global warming and salinisation of coastal aquifers, will further exacerbate the situation (Wang et al., 2003) and also impact on natural ecosystems (Clary et al., 2004). Increasing the efficiency of water use within agricultural systems is critical to ensure food security and stability of agricultural production systems. Despite several initiatives there is still a gap between the research scientists and politicians and agronomists. Recent advances in molecular and genetic research have added substantially to our understanding of basic biological processes that may lead to novel technologies. To exploit these fully it is vital to improve communication between research scientists and end-users (policy makers and politicians for policy determination - agronomists for sustainable production). Developing germplasm to match the complex ecosystems, requires exploitation and integration of a variety of technologies (Humphreys et al., 2003; Thomas, 2003; Elouafi & Nachit, 2004). The correlation of phenotype with the pattern of gene expression (the transcriptome) may be considered one way of bridging the gap between genotype and phenotype (Wilson et al., 2003). Underpinning some approaches to crop improvement, is the ability to routinely transform major crop species (e.g. wheat, Pastori et al., 2001; Sparks et al., 2001) and to identify key genes and regulatory elements by tagging or mutagenesis (e.g. wheat, Salguero et al., 2002). However, the more traditional disciplines such as crop physiology, still have an important role to play in providing a better understanding of the physiological and morphological traits associated with desired characteristics such as crop yield and quality, resource use efficiency and tolerance of drought (Masclaux et al., 2001; Slafer, 2003; Araus et al., 2003; Forster et al., 2004; Lefi et al., 2004). In addition, the contribution of effective management of the available water resource through agronomic practice cannot be ignored (Peterson & Westfall, 2004).

KeywordsAgriculture, Multidisciplinary
Year of Publication2004
JournalAnnals of Applied Biology
Journal citation144 (2), pp. 125-126
Digital Object Identifier (DOI)doi:10.1111/j.1744-7348.2004.tb00325.x
Open accessPublished as non-open access
Funder project or code521
ISSN00034746
PublisherWiley

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