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Trends in Plant Science
Volume 26 (6), 2021, Pages 607-630

Addressing Research Bottlenecks to Crop Productivity

Matthew Reynolds1, Owen K. Atkin2, Malcolm Bennett3, Mark Cooper4, Ian C. Dodd5, M. John Foulkes3, Claus Frohberg6, Graeme Hammer4

International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center (CIMMYT), Km. 45, Carretera Mexico, El Batan, Texcoco, Mexico.


Asymmetry of investment in crop research leads to knowledge gaps and lost opportunities to accelerate genetic gain through identifying new sources and combinations of traits and alleles. On the basis of consultation with scientists from most major seed companies, we identified several research areas with three common features: (i) relatively underrepresented in the literature; (ii) high probability of boosting productivity in a wide range of crops and environments; and (iii) could be researched in ‘precompetitive’ space, leveraging previous knowledge, and thereby improving models that guide crop breeding and management decisions. Areas identified included research into hormones, recombination, respiration, roots, and source–sink, which, along with new opportunities in phenomics, genomics, and bioinformatics, make it more feasible to explore crop genetic resources and improve breeding strategies.

Keywords: hormones, recombination, respiration, roots, source:, sink, public-private-partnership, crop growth model.

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