Beneficial bacteria help wheat stand the heat

21 March, 2021

Bacteria plucked from a desert plant could help crops survive heatwaves and protect the future of food.

Global warming has increased the number of severe heatwaves that wreak havoc on agriculture, reduce crop yields and threaten food supplies. However, not all plants perish in extreme heat. Some have natural heat tolerance, while others acquire heat tolerance after previous exposure to higher temperatures than normal, similar to how vaccines trigger the immune system with a tiny dose of virus.

But breeding heat tolerant crops is laborious and expensive, and slightly warming entire fields is even trickier.

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Image: Studies have shown that root-dwelling bacteria can help plants and crops survive extreme conditions, such as drought, excessive salt or heat.
© 2021 KAUST; Anastasia Serin