Publications by authors named "Kai Sonder"

15 Publications

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Harnessing translational research in wheat for climate resilience.

J Exp Bot 2021 Jun 17. Epub 2021 Jun 17.

International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center (CIMMYT), Texcoco, Mexico.

Despite being the world's most widely grown crop, research investments in wheat (Triticum aestivum and Triticum durum) fall behind those in other staple crops. Current yield gains will not meet 2050 needs, and climate stresses compound this challenge. However, there is good evidence that heat and drought resilience can be boosted through translating promising ideas into novel breeding technologies using powerful new tools in genetics and remote sensing, for example. Such technologies can also be applied to identify climate resilience traits from among the vast and largely untapped reserve of wheat genetic resources in collections worldwide. This review describes multi-pronged research opportunities at the focus of the Heat and Drought Wheat Improvement Consortium (coordinated by CIMMYT), which together create a pipeline to boost heat and drought resilience, specifically: improving crop design targets using big data approaches, developing phenomic tools for field-based screening and research, applying genomic technologies to elucidate bases of climate resilience traits, and applying these outputs in developing next-generation breeding methods. The global impact of these outputs will be validated through the International Wheat Improvement Network, a global germplasm development and testing system that contributes key productivity traits to ~half of the global wheat growing area.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/jxb/erab256DOI Listing
June 2021

Impacts of drought-tolerant maize varieties on productivity, risk, and resource use: Evidence from Uganda.

Land use policy 2019 Nov;88:104091

International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center (CIMMYT), Carretera México-Veracruz Km. 45 El Batán, Texcoco, C.P. 56237, Mexico.

Weather variability is an important source of production risk for rainfed agriculture in developing countries. This paper evaluates the impacts of the adoption of drought-tolerant maize varieties on average maize yield, yield stability, risk exposure and resource use in rainfed smallholder maize farming. The study uses cross-sectional farm household-level data, collected from a sample of 840 farm households in Uganda. The adoption of drought-tolerant maize varieties increased yield by 15% and reduced the probability of crop failure by 30%. We further show that the adoption of these varieties increased investments in maize production at the extensive margin through maize area increase and to a more limited extent at the intensive margin through mechanization. The findings show promise for further uptake and scaling of drought-tolerant maize varieties for increased productivity, reduced risk, and the transformation of the maize sector.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.landusepol.2019.104091DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6894317PMC
November 2019

Economic benefits of blast-resistant biofortified wheat in Bangladesh: The case of .

Crop Prot 2019 Sep;123:45-58

Socioeconomics Program, CIMMYT, Mexico.

The first occurrence of wheat blast in 2016 threatened Bangladesh's already precarious food security situation. The Bangladesh Agricultural Research Institute (BARI), together with the International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center (CIMMYT) developed and released the wheat variety 33 that is resistant to wheat blast and other common diseases. The new variety provides a 5-8% yield gain over the available popular varieties, as well as being zinc enriched. This study examines the potential economic benefits of in Bangladesh. First, applying a climate analogue model, this study identified that more than 55% of the total wheat-growing area in Bangladesh (across 45 districts) is vulnerable to wheat blast. Second, applying an impact assessment framework, this study shows that with an assumed cumulative adoption starting from 2019-20 and increasing to 30% by 2027-28, the potential economic benefits of the newly developed wheat variety far exceeds its dissemination cost by 2029-30. Even if dissemination of the new wheat variety is limited to only the ten currently blast-affected districts, the yearly average net benefits could amount to USD 0.23-1.6 million. Based on the findings, international funder agencies are urged to support the national system in scaling out the new wheat variety and wheat research in general to ensure overall food security in Bangladesh and South Asia.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.cropro.2019.05.013DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6686726PMC
September 2019

Identifying loci with breeding potential across temperate and tropical adaptation via EigenGWAS and EnvGWAS.

Mol Ecol 2019 08 18;28(15):3544-3560. Epub 2019 Aug 18.

Institute of Crop Sciences, Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences, Beijing, China.

Understanding the genomic basis of adaptation in maize is important for gene discovery and the improvement of breeding germplasm, but much remains a mystery in spite of significant population genetics and archaeological research. Identifying the signals underpinning adaptation are challenging as adaptation often coincided with genetic drift, and the base genomic diversity of the species in massive. In this study, tGBS technology was used to genotype 1,143 diverse maize accessions including landraces collected from 20 countries and elite breeding lines of tropical lowland, highland, subtropical/midaltitude and temperate ecological zones. Based on 355,442 high-quality single nucleotide polymorphisms, 13 genomic regions were detected as being under selection using the bottom-up searching strategy, EigenGWAS. Of the 13 selection regions, 10 were first reported, two were associated with environmental parameters via EnvGWAS, and 146 genes were enriched. Combining large-scale genomic and ecological data in this diverse maize panel, our study supports a polygenic adaptation model of maize and offers a framework to enhance our understanding of both the mechanistic basis and the evolutionary consequences of maize domestication and adaptation. The regions identified here are promising candidates for further, targeted exploration to identify beneficial alleles and haplotypes for deployment in maize breeding.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/mec.15169DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6851670PMC
August 2019

Averting wheat blast by implementing a 'wheat holiday': In search of alternative crops in West Bengal, India.

PLoS One 2019 20;14(2):e0211410. Epub 2019 Feb 20.

Socioeconomics Program, CIMMYT (International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center), Texcoco, México.

The emergence of wheat-blast in Bangladesh in the 2015-16 wheat (Triticum aestivum L.) crop threatens the food security of South Asia. A potential spread of the disease from Bangladesh to India could have devastating impacts on India's overall food security as wheat is its second most important staple food crop. West Bengal state in eastern India shares a 2,217 km-long border with Bangladesh and has a similar agro-ecology, enhancing the prospects of the disease entering India via West Bengal. The present study explores the possibility of a 'wheat holiday' policy in the nine border districts of West Bengal. Under the policy, farmers in these districts would stop wheat cultivation for at least two years. The present scoping study assesses the potential economic feasibility of alternative crops to wheat. Of the ten crops considered, maize, gram (chickpea), urad (black gram), rapeseed and mustard, and potatoes are found to be potentially feasible alternative crops. Any crop substitution would need support to ease the transition including addressing the challenges related to the management of alternative crops, ensuring adequate crop combinations and value chain development. Still, as wheat is a major staple, there is some urgency to support further research on disease epidemiology and forecasting, as well as the development and dissemination of blast-resistant wheat varieties across South Asia.
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http://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0211410PLOS
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6382110PMC
November 2019

Effect of climate change on spring wheat yields in North America and Eurasia in 1981-2015 and implications for breeding.

PLoS One 2018 17;13(10):e0204932. Epub 2018 Oct 17.

Advancing Wheat Technologies, Saskatchewan, Canada.

Wheat yield dynamic in Canada, USA, Russia and Kazakhstan from 1981 till 2015 was related to air temperature and precipitation during wheat season to evaluate the effects of climate change. The study used yield data from the provinces, states and regions and average yield from 19 spring wheat breeding/research sites. Both at production and research sites grain yield in Eurasia was two times lower compared to North America. The yearly variations in grain yield in North America and Eurasia did not correlate suggesting that higher yield in one region was normally associated with lower yield in another region. Minimum and maximum air temperature during the wheat growing season (April-August) had tendency to increase. While precipitation in April-August increased in North American sites from 289 mm in 1981-1990 to 338 mm in 2006-2015 it remained constant and low at Eurasian sites (230 and 238 mm, respectively). High temperature in June and July negatively affected grain yield in most of the sites at both continents. Climatic changes resulted in substantial changes in the dates of planting and harvesting normally leading to extension of growing season. Longer planting-harvesting period was positively associated with the grain yield for most of the locations. The climatic changes since 1981 and spring wheat responses suggest several implications for breeding. Gradual warming extends the wheat growing season and new varieties need to match this to utilize their potential. Higher rainfall during the wheat season, especially in North America, will require varieties with higher yield potential responding to moisture availability. June is a critical month for spring wheat in both regions due to the significant negative correlation of grain yield with maximum temperature and positive correlation with precipitation. Breeding for adaptation to higher temperatures during this period is an important strategy to increase yield.
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http://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0204932PLOS
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6192627PMC
March 2019

Harnessing genetic potential of wheat germplasm banks through impact-oriented-prebreeding for future food and nutritional security.

Sci Rep 2018 08 21;8(1):12527. Epub 2018 Aug 21.

ICAR-Indian Agricultural Research Institute, Regional Station, Shimla, 171004, India.

The value of exotic wheat genetic resources for accelerating grain yield gains is largely unproven and unrealized. We used next-generation sequencing, together with multi-environment phenotyping, to study the contribution of exotic genomes to 984 three-way-cross-derived (exotic/elite1//elite2) pre-breeding lines (PBLs). Genomic characterization of these lines with haplotype map-based and SNP marker approaches revealed exotic specific imprints of 16.1 to 25.1%, which compares to theoretical expectation of 25%. A rare and favorable haplotype (GT) with 0.4% frequency in gene bank identified on chromosome 6D minimized grain yield (GY) loss under heat stress without GY penalty under irrigated conditions. More specifically, the 'T' allele of the haplotype GT originated in Aegilops tauschii and was absent in all elite lines used in study. In silico analysis of the SNP showed hits with a candidate gene coding for isoflavone reductase IRL-like protein in Ae. tauschii. Rare haplotypes were also identified on chromosomes 1A, 6A and 2B effective against abiotic/biotic stresses. Results demonstrate positive contributions of exotic germplasm to PBLs derived from crosses of exotics with CIMMYT's best elite lines. This is a major impact-oriented pre-breeding effort at CIMMYT, resulting in large-scale development of PBLs for deployment in breeding programs addressing food security under climate change scenarios.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/s41598-018-30667-4DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6104032PMC
August 2018

Threat of wheat blast to South Asia's food security: An ex-ante analysis.

PLoS One 2018 21;13(5):e0197555. Epub 2018 May 21.

Socioeconomics Program, CIMMYT (International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center), Texcoco, Mexico.

New biotic stresses have emerged around the globe over the last decades threatening food safety and security. In 2016, scientists confirmed the presence of the devastating wheat-blast disease in Bangladesh, South Asia-its first occurrence outside South America. Severely blast-affected wheat fields had their grain yield wiped out. This poses a severe threat to food security in a densely-populated region with millions of poor inhabitants where wheat is a major staple crop and per capita wheat consumption has been increasing. As an ex ante impact assessment, this study examined potential wheat-blast scenarios in Bangladesh, India, and Pakistan. Based on the agro-climatic conditions in the epicenter, where the disease was first identified in Bangladesh in 2016, this study identified the correspondingly vulnerable areas in India, Pakistan and Bangladesh amounting to 7 million ha. Assuming a conservative scenario of 5-10% for blast-induced wheat production loss, this study estimated the annual potential wheat loss across the sampled countries to be 0.89-1.77 million tons, equivalent to USD 132-264 million. Such losses further threaten an already-precarious national food security, putting pressure on wheat imports and wheat prices. The study is a call for action to tackle the real wheat-blast threat in South Asia.
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http://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0197555PLOS
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5962063PMC
December 2018

Improving agricultural knowledge management: The experience.

F1000Res 2017 24;6:317. Epub 2017 Mar 24.

International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT), Bamako, Mali.

Opportunities to use data and information to address challenges in international agricultural research and development are expanding rapidly. The use of agricultural trial and evaluation data has enormous potential to improve crops and management practices. However, for a number of reasons, this potential has yet to be realized. This paper reports on the experience of the initiative, an effort to build an online database of agricultural trials applying principles of interoperability and open access. Our analysis evaluates what worked and what did not work in the development of the information resource. We analyzed data on our users and their interaction with the platform. We also surveyed our users to gauge their perceptions of the utility of the online database. The study revealed barriers to participation and impediments to interaction, opportunities for improving agricultural knowledge management and a large potential for the use of trial and evaluation data.  Technical and logistical mechanisms for developing interoperable online databases are well advanced.  More effort will be needed to advance organizational and institutional work for these types of databases to realize their potential.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.12688/f1000research.11179.2DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5443339PMC
March 2017

Assessing high-impact spots of climate change: spatial yield simulations with Decision Support System for Agrotechnology Transfer (DSSAT) model.

Mitig Adapt Strateg Glob Chang 2017 6;22(5):743-760. Epub 2016 Feb 6.

CRS Catholic Relief Services, Lima, Peru.

Drybeans ( L.) are an important subsistence crop in Central America. Future climate change may threaten drybean production and jeopardize smallholder farmers' food security. We estimated yield changes in drybeans due to changing climate in these countries using downscaled data from global circulation models (GCMs) in El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, and Nicaragua. We generated daily weather data, which we used in the Decision Support System for Agrotechnology Transfer (DSSAT) drybean submodel. We compared different cultivars, soils, and fertilizer options in three planting seasons. We analyzed the simulated yields to spatially classify high-impact spots of climate change across the four countries. The results show a corridor of reduced yields from Lake Nicaragua to central Honduras (10-38 % decrease). Yields increased in the Guatemalan highlands, towards the Atlantic coast, and in southern Nicaragua (10-41 % increase). Some farmers will be able to adapt to climate change, but others will have to change crops, which will require external support. Research institutions will need to devise technologies that allow farmers to adapt and provide policy makers with feasible strategies to implement them.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s11027-015-9696-2DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6054003PMC
February 2016

Hot spots of wheat yield decline with rising temperatures.

Glob Chang Biol 2017 06 10;23(6):2464-2472. Epub 2016 Nov 10.

Department of Earth System Science, Stanford University, Stanford, CA, 94305, USA.

Many of the irrigated spring wheat regions in the world are also regions with high poverty. The impacts of temperature increase on wheat yield in regions of high poverty are uncertain. A grain yield-temperature response function combined with a quantification of model uncertainty was constructed using a multimodel ensemble from two key irrigated spring wheat areas (India and Sudan) and applied to all irrigated spring wheat regions in the world. Southern Indian and southern Pakistani wheat-growing regions with large yield reductions from increasing temperatures coincided with high poverty headcounts, indicating these areas as future food security 'hot spots'. The multimodel simulations produced a linear absolute decline of yields with increasing temperature, with uncertainty varying with reference temperature at a location. As a consequence of the linear absolute yield decline, the relative yield reductions are larger in low-yielding environments (e.g., high reference temperature areas in southern India, southern Pakistan and all Sudan wheat-growing regions) and farmers in these regions will be hit hardest by increasing temperatures. However, as absolute yield declines are about the same in low- and high-yielding regions, the contributed deficit to national production caused by increasing temperatures is higher in high-yielding environments (e.g., northern India) because these environments contribute more to national wheat production. Although Sudan could potentially grow more wheat if irrigation is available, grain yields would be low due to high reference temperatures, with future increases in temperature further limiting production.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/gcb.13530DOI Listing
June 2017

Phenotyping for abiotic stress tolerance in maize.

J Integr Plant Biol 2012 Apr;54(4):238-49

International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center, P.O. Box MP 163, Mount Pleasant, Harare, Zimbabwe.

The ability to quickly develop germplasm having tolerance to several complex polygenic inherited abiotic and biotic stresses combined is critical to the resilience of cropping systems in the face of climate change. Molecular breeding offers the tools to accelerate cereal breeding; however, suitable phenotyping protocols are essential to ensure that the much-anticipated benefits of molecular breeding can be realized. To facilitate the full potential of molecular tools, greater emphasis needs to be given to reducing the within-experimental site variability, application of stress and characterization of the environment and appropriate phenotyping tools. Yield is a function of many processes throughout the plant cycle, and thus integrative traits that encompass crop performance over time or organization level (i.e. canopy level) will provide a better alternative to instantaneous measurements which provide only a snapshot of a given plant process. Many new phenotyping tools based on remote sensing are now available including non-destructive measurements of growth-related parameters based on spectral reflectance and infrared thermometry to estimate plant water status. Here we describe key field phenotyping protocols for maize with emphasis on tolerance to drought and low nitrogen.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/j.1744-7909.2012.01118.xDOI Listing
April 2012

Global crop improvement networks to bridge technology gaps.

J Exp Bot 2012 Jan 16;63(1):1-12. Epub 2011 Sep 16.

International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center (CIMMYT, Int.). Km. 45 via México-Veracruz. Texcoco, CP56120, Edo de México, México.

To ensure future food security, there is an urgent need for improved co-ordination of agricultural research. While advances in biotechnology hold considerable promise, significant technology gaps exist that may reduce their impact. Examples include an incomplete knowledge of target breeding environments, a limited understanding and/or application of optimal crop management practices, and underfunded extension services. A better co-ordinated and more globalized approach to agricultural research through the implementation of Global Crop Improvement Networks (GCIN) is proposed. Such networks could underpin agricultural research and development by providing the following types of services: (i) increased resolution and precision of environmental information, including meteorological data, soil characteristics, hydrological data, and the identification of environmental 'hotspots' for a range of biotic, abiotic, and socio-economic constraints; (ii) augmented research capacity, including network-based variety and crop management trials, faster and more comprehensive diagnosis of emerging constraints, timely sharing of new technologies, opportunities to focus research efforts better by linking groups with similar productivity constraints and complementary skills, and greater control of experimental variables in field-based phenotyping; and (iii) increased communication and impacts via more effective dissemination of new ideas and products, the integration of information globally to elicit well-timed local responses to productivity threats, an increased profile, and the publicity of threats to food security. Such outputs would help target the translation of research from the laboratory into the field while bringing the constraints of rural communities closer to the scientific community. The GCIN could provide a lens which academia, science councils, and development agencies could use to focus in on themes of common interest, and working platforms to integrate novel research approaches on crop adaptation and rural development.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/jxb/err241DOI Listing
January 2012