Heat tolerance around flowering in wheat identified as a key trait for increased yield potential in Europe under climate change

A - Papers appearing in refereed journals

Stratonovitch, P. and Semenov, M. A. 2015. Heat tolerance around flowering in wheat identified as a key trait for increased yield potential in Europe under climate change. Journal of Experimental Botany. 66 (12), pp. 3599-3609. https://doi.org/10.1093/jxb/erv070

AuthorsStratonovitch, P. and Semenov, M. A.

To deliver food security for the 9 billon population in 2050, a 70% increase in world food supply will be required. Projected climatic and environmental changes emphasize the need for breeding strategies that delivers both a substantial increase in yield potential and resilience to extreme weather events such as heat waves, late frost, and drought. Heat stress around sensitive stages of wheat development has been identified as a possible threat to wheat production in Europe. However, no estimates have been made to assess yield losses due to increased frequency and magnitude of heat stress under climate change. Using existing experimental data, the Sirius wheat model was refined by incorporating the effects of extreme temperature during flowering and grain filling on accelerated leaf senescence, grain number, and grain weight. This allowed us, for the first time, to quantify yield losses resulting from heat stress under climate change. The model was used to optimize wheat ideotypes for CMIP5-based climate scenarios for 2050 at six sites in Europe with diverse climates. The yield potential for heat-tolerant ideotypes can be substantially increased in the future (e.g. by 80% at Seville, 100% at Debrecen) compared with the current cultivars by selecting an optimal combination of wheat traits, e.g. optimal phenology and extended duration of grain filling. However, at two sites, Seville and Debrecen, the grain yields of heat-sensitive ideotypes were substantially lower (by 54% and 16%) and more variable compared with heat-tolerant ideotypes, because the extended grain filling required for the increased yield potential was in conflict with episodes of high temperature during flowering and grain filling. Despite much earlier flowering at these sites, the risk of heat stress affecting yields of heat-sensitive ideotypes remained high. Therefore, heat tolerance in wheat is likely to become a key trait for increased yield potential and yield stability in southern Europe in the future.

Year of Publication2015
JournalJournal of Experimental Botany
Journal citation66 (12), pp. 3599-3609
Digital Object Identifier (DOI)https://doi.org/10.1093/jxb/erv070
Open accessPublished as ‘gold’ (paid) open access
FunderEuropean Union
Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council
Funder project or codeWheat
Genetic and physiology of wheat development to flowering: tools to breed to improved adaption and yield potential: ADAPTAWHEAT
[20:20 Wheat] Systems approaches to crop improvement
FACCE-JPI Knowledge Hub: MACSUR-Partner 25
Publisher's version
Copyright license
Output statusPublished
Publication dates
Online01 Jun 2015
Publication process dates
Accepted02 Feb 2015
PublisherOxford University Press (OUP)

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