Researchers on the hunt for hardier auber-genes -

Researchers on the hunt for hardier auber-genes

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Researchers on the hunt for hardier auber-genes

Finding an eggplant that holds up to the effects of climate change is the aim of a breeding program involving Spain, Sri Lanka and Côte d'Ivoire. eggplants

The EggPrebreed project led by the Universitat Politècnica de València (UPV) - with participation from Sri Lanka's Peradeniya University and the Université Félix Houphouët-Boigny in Côte d'Ivoire - already has 58 hybrids crossing traditional varieties and wild eggplants from Africa, the Middle East, Southeast Asia and the Americas.

The wild varieties have shown the capacity to grow in extreme conditions, specifically in areas like deserts with daily temperatures above 35°C (95°F) and night temperatures below 0°C (32°F).

The program forms part of a global initiative 'Adapting agriculture to climate change: collecting, protecting and preparing crop wild relatives', led by the Global Crop Diversity Trust and the Millennium Seed Bank of England's Royal Botanic Gardens, with financing from the Norwegian government.

The eggplant is judged one of the 35 most important crops for food security and is included in the Annex 1 of the International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture.

EggPrebreed is primarily focused on the vegetable's adaptation to climate change in Southeast Asia and West Africa, in vulnerable zones where eggplants are a common food.

"Precisely because of their tolerance to abiotic and biotic stresses, wild species are used as the foundation for the crosses and obtaining new grafted eggplants; combining with varieties from Sri Lanka and Côte d'Ivoire, once the hybrid are obtained they are crossed with native varieties of the area to introduce only the genes and characteristics we care about," said Jaime Prohens, director of the UPV's Institute for Conservation and Improvement of Valencian Agrodiversity (COMAV).

The UPV said these crosses formed the first step for obtaining new, climate change-resistant varieties, which is a process that could take five to 10 years in regions like the Asian tropics and West Africa.



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