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Recent Advances In Breeding Maize For Drought And Salinity Stress Tolerance

M. Bänziger, J. Araus
Published 2007 · Environmental Science

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Maize production losses due to drought and salinity prominently affect economies and the livelihoods of millions of people, given the global and regional importance of maize and its pronounced susceptibility to these stress factors. Climate change and accelerating competition for irrigation water are expected to further increase the need for adaptive strategies. There is vast evidence for genetic approaches being able to significantly improve the drought and salinity tolerance of maize. Field-based breeding approaches have resulted in average breeding gains of around 100 kg ha-1 yr-1 under drought conditions, and there are first reports on transgenic drought and salinity tolerance mechanisms increasing maize grain yields under laboratory and field conditions. Drought and salinity tolerance are based on complex genetic systems and successful genetic enhancement programs need to consider gene-by-gene, gene-by environment and gene-by-developmental stage interactions. In the case of drought, field-based and transgenic approaches have resulted in the improvement of diverse and potentially additive tolerance mechanisms. Increasing yields and yield stability of maize in the face of climate change and scarcity of irrigation water will therefore likely be the most successful if complementary investments in field-based and transgenic breeding approaches are being made
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