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Peas That Like It Hot

10:41 EDT 23 Aug 2017 | Meridian Institute

Every year, farmers produce between 10 and 13 million tons of field pea, making it a top legume crop, just behind dry beans and chickpeas. Yet heat stress threatens to become a major limiting factor for pea cultivation, as global climate changes lead to higher temperatures. Now, a new study indicates that pea plants with certain traits, such as longer flowering time and higher pod numbers, could be more resistant to heat. "In some years, the older varieties of pea weren't growing very well because of heat stress," says Rosalind Bueckert, a plant scientist at the University of Saskatchewan, Canada, and lead author of the study. "We wanted to find new varieties that have robust and consistent yields in a warming world." Bueckert and her colleagues are among the first to uncover the location of genes that affect heat stress. "Identifying traits that make pea plants more resistant to heat stress is one piece of the puzzle," says Bueckert. The other piece, she said, is understanding the genetics of these traits. "The more work we can do with genetic locations and molecular techniques, the more efficient we will be," says Bueckert. Further research for the group will aim to identify other traits that can contribute to heat resistance in peas.

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