What does HeDWIC do?

We develop climate resilient wheat

HeDWIC capitalizes on decades of research in plant stress and rapidly emerging technologies to advance the frontier of breeding. It delivers new technologies to wheat breeders worldwide via the International Wheat Improvement Network (IWIN), involving public and private research organizations in over 90 countries, facilitated for more than half a century by the International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center (CIMMYT). Together, we are creating future wheat. 

Translational research

HeDWIC uses a translational research approach (Fig 1) to facilitate targeted research and test and deliver new germplasm across a range of realistic environments (see Global Network). The key components of this platform are linked to create an infrastructure that will enable utilization of transformative technologies and innovative thinking across a range of disciplines, as well as coordinate the efforts of HeDWIC collaborators worldwide and ensure timely delivery of outputs. ​Human capacity building will be integrated into all of these research activities, testing and delivery components.

Figure 1: Varied research components involved in translating promising technologies into genetic gains (Reynolds and Langridge, 2016, reprinted under license CC BY-NC-ND).

In 2020, the Foundation for Food and Agricultural Research (FFAR) committed to funding the project “Harnessing translational research across a global wheat improvement network for climate resilience” representing a major pillar of HeDWIC through September, 2025. The project addresses 9 research gaps through 9 correlated research goals. Read more about this project and at Reynolds et al., 2021.

Breeding

As part of the HeDWIC translational research approach, HeDWIC builds on decades of breeding and collaborative research on abiotic stress coordinated by CIMMYT, which has been supported by numerous agencies and initiatives including Mexico’s Ministry of Agriculture (SADER), the CGIAR Trust Fund [in particular the Australian Center for International Agricultural Research (ACIAR), the U.K. Department for International Development (DFID) & the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), Australia’s Grains Research Development Corporation (GRDC), Germany’s Ministry of Food and Agriculture (BMEL), the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA)], the International Wheat Yield Partnership (IWYP) and others. 

HeDWIC has a growing group of active stakeholder scientists from universities, research institutes, and CGIAR centers, many of whom participated in its conceptualization. Heat and drought are only getting worse in wheat production areas making the HeDWIC agenda all the more urgent.

International Wheat Improvement Network (IWIN)

HeDWIC’s translational research outputs are underpinned by the hugely successful International Wheat Improvement Network (IWIN). The Stress Adaptive Trait Yield Nursery (SATYN) is an annually updated nursery distributed by HeDWIC through the IWIN. Maps of collaborators evaluating the SATYN can be seen here.

The IWIN, overall, is a well-established wheat improvement network of around 700 field sites in over 90 countries covering different mega-environments (Fig 4) -many of which experience heat and/or drought stress at some time- through development of new high yielding, disease-resistant lines targeted to major agro-ecologies, delivered annually as international public goods (Braun et al, 2010, Gbegbelegbe et al., 2017). IWIN-related varieties have impacted at least half of all wheat areas, globally, benefiting especially less developed countries where additional value of around $3 billion per year is spread among resource-poor farmers and consumers (Fig 5, Lantican et al., 2016). This represents a benefit-cost ratio of over 100:1 from the IWIN breeding efforts, and which HeDWIC research will boost as a worsening climate makes genetic gains progressively harder to achieve.

Figure 4: Public and private breeding programs that have received germplasm under the International Wheat Improvement Network (Reynolds et al., 2021, shared under license CC-BY).

Figure 5: Spring bread wheat released by region and origin through the IWIN, 1994–2014 (Lantican et al., 2016, reprinted and adapted under license CC BY-NC).