Speed breeding, together with other state-of-the art technologies such as
gene editing, is the best way to develop a pipeline of new crops. This is
according to an article in Nature Biotechnology authored by geneticists from
the University of Queensland, Australia.
"We face a grand challenge in terms of feeding the world. If you look at the
stats, we're going to have about 10 billion on the planet by 2050 and we're
going to need 60 to 80 percent more food to feed everybody. It's an even
greater challenge in the face of climate change and diseases that affect our
crops that are also rapidly evolving," said lead author, Dr. Lee Hickey.
Traditional plant breeding, however, is a slow process. Inspired by the
National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA)'s study on how to grow
food on space stations, Dr. Hickey and team control light and temperature to
send plant growth into overdrive. In their Nature article released in
November 2018, they reported that they can grow up to six generations of
wheat, barley, chickpeas, and canola in a year, while traditional techniques
only enable 1-2 generations for that span of time.
In their latest article, Dr. Hickey reported the potential of speed
breeding, as well as other techniques that may significantly contribute to
food security. They have integrated new genetic techniques to optimize
flowering times and make plants more resistant to the effects of climate
Change. For instance, they are currently working on using the CRISPR system
to modify plants' genes while simultaneously speed breeding them.
One of the future plans of the team is to train plant breeders in India,
Zimbabwe, and Mali in partnership with International Crops Research
Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics and support from the Bill and Melinda