Wheat is an important part of almost everyone’s diet, rich or poor, making up 20% of the calories consumed by humans worldwide. In many less-developed countries wheat is the main source of calories. Wheat crop losses due to heat and drought affect both food availability and cost for billions of consumers around the world. Because wheat is a staple food for so many, if wheat production falters in one country due to heat or drought, it affects food prices and food security regionally and globally.
HeDWIC capitalizes on decades of research in plant stress as well as the emergence of new technologies to advance the frontier of breeding. For example, wheat researchers have identified biological mechanisms that enable the crop to cool itself under heat stress, root systems that mine deep water under drought, and wild relatives that can withstand very high temperatures. With advancements in high-speed computing, remote sensing, and genomic technologies, we can, for the first time, apply this knowledge to develop new climate-resilient wheat varieties.
With the new wheat varieties that HeDWIC helps develop, wheat farmers and consumers will have more reliable food and income. Farmers will also be better able to cope with a changing climate, reducing risk of catastrophic wheat crop losses. HeDWIC enables a better-coordinated wheat research and development community, while training the next generation of crop experts to tackle new problems as they evolve. Furthermore, HeDWIC provides a research, organizational and capacity building model that can benefit other important food crops