Newer roots for agriculture

Annual grains, domesticated from wild species, have dominated agriculture since the Neolithic. A new study reports how turning to high-yield perennial rice crops could maintain key ecosystem functions while supporting livelihoods.

The past several decades have seen modest but growing investments in the development of perennial grain crops, including perennial counterparts of wheat, rice and sorghum suitable for the USA, China, Europe and Africa. One technique involves domesticating wild perennial species through continual selection of desirable traits over multiple generations3. A recently developed perennial grain currently grown for niche markets in the USA, Kernza, was domesticated from Thinopyrum intermedium, a wild relative of wheat. While yields of Kernza remain low compared with those of annual wheat, they are increasing. As with the development of perennial rice, plant breeders can also cross perennial species with domesticated annual relatives to produce perennial hybrids with desirable traits derived from the annual parent3.

Source: Ecology -

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