5 years ago

Disaggregating sorghum yield reductions under warming scenarios exposes narrow genetic diversity in US breeding programs [Sustainability Science]

Disaggregating sorghum yield reductions under warming scenarios exposes narrow genetic diversity in US breeding programs [Sustainability Science]
Jane Lingenfelser, S. V. Krishna Jagadish, Jesse Tack

Historical adaptation of sorghum production to arid and semiarid conditions has provided promise regarding its sustained productivity under future warming scenarios. Using Kansas field-trial sorghum data collected from 1985 to 2014 and spanning 408 hybrid cultivars, we show that sorghum productivity under increasing warming scenarios breaks down. Through extensive regression modeling, we identify a temperature threshold of 33 °C, beyond which yields start to decline. We show that this decline is robust across both field-trial and on-farm data. Moderate and higher warming scenarios of 2 °C and 4 °C resulted in roughly 17% and 44% yield reductions, respectively. The average reduction across warming scenarios from 1 to 5 °C is 10% per degree Celsius. Breeding efforts over the last few decades have developed high-yielding cultivars with considerable variability in heat resilience, but even the most tolerant cultivars did not offer much resilience to warming temperatures. This outcome points to two concerns regarding adaption to global warming, the first being that adaptation will not be as simple as producers’ switching among currently available cultivars and the second being that there is currently narrow genetic diversity for heat resilience in US breeding programs. Using observed flowering dates and disaggregating heat-stress impacts, both pre- and postflowering stages were identified to be equally important for overall yields. These findings suggest the adaptation potential for sorghum under climate change would be greatly facilitated by introducing wider genetic diversity for heat resilience into ongoing breeding programs, and that there should be additional efforts to improve resilience during the preflowering phase.

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