Editors: Roberto Pilu, Giuseppe Gavazzi

More Food: Road to Survival

eBook: US $89 Special Offer (PDF + Printed Copy): US $224
Printed Copy: US $180
Library License: US $356
ISBN: 978-1-68108-468-8 (Print)
ISBN: 978-1-68108-467-1 (Online)
Year of Publication: 2017
DOI: 10.2174/97816810846711170101

Introduction

More Food: Road to Survival is a comprehensive analysis of agricultural improvements which can be achieved through scientific methods. This reference book gives information about strategies for increasing plant productivity, comparisons of agricultural models, the role of epigenetic events on crop production, yield enhancing physiological events (photosynthesis, germination, seedling emergence, seed properties, etc.), tools enabling efficient exploration of genetic variability, domestication of new species, the detection or induction of drought resistance and apomixes and plant breeding enhancement (through molecularly assisted breeding, genetic engineering, genome editing and next generation sequencing).

The book concludes with a case study for the improvement of small grain cereals. Readers will gain an understanding of the biotechnological tools and concepts central to sustainable agriculture

More Food: Road to Survival is, therefore, an ideal reference for agriculture students and researchers as well as professionals involved sustainability studies.

Preface

The need for more food is rapidly increasing as the world population is growing at a fast pace. The scientific community involved in crop production and its improvement is being called upon to find solutions to the expanding global demand for crop plants and their products. Two options are available to increase yields: the first consists of an increase in the areas under production, and the second, an improvement of productivity on existing farmland. Of the two options the second seems preferable, as it avoids the disruption of existing ecosystems as well as an increase in greenhouse gas emissions. In both cases two strategies can be adopted, one classical, of extensive industrial agriculture largely adopted in developed countries to produce major crops like corn, rice, wheat and soybean and another one, known as sustainable agriculture, characterized by a production more respectful of the ecosystem. The two strategies are not mutually exclusive and which one of the two should be adopted depends on the characteristics of local production methods and on economic and political considerations, as well as the choice of global versus local food production and consumption. In this context, to really improve the situation, we should focus our efforts on the areas of the world where the nutrition of the population should be improved, like Africa, India, Bangladesh, Pakistan, China and some regions of South America. In these areas the solutions to solve the problem of hunger should be local and specific, related to the real needs of the population and respectful of local traditions. The knowledge, experience and know-how available to the western world could be invaluable tools for improving their agricultural production. Application of our model of industrial agriculture should be avoided. Only by trying to understand what are the needs of these populations and exporting our knowledge to improve their situation can we hope to contribute to solve their problems. These considerations are developed in the first two chapters of the book. The following chapter will deal with genetic variability as an essential source of plant improvement. The following chapters will analyse basic physiological processes which represent bottlenecks for productivity and the efforts that could be directed to increase the efficiency of these processes. The topics analysed will be the genetic control of seed size; germination and seedling elongation, representing crucial steps in plant development; photomorphogenesis and the effects of light on aspects related to yield, such as photoperiod and shade avoidance, photosynthesis and the sink-source flux; and mineral nutrition. These topics will be covered in chapters 5 to 9. We will concentrate on factors that are directly related to yield, omitting those indirectly affecting productivity like herbicide- and pest-resistance, drought tolerance and cold resistance. In the last part of the book, attention will be given to some of the tools available to the researcher to achieve plant improvement. We will focus attention on available tools such as molecularly assisted breeding, gene editing, domestication of new species, heterosis and apomixis.

IMPORTANCE OF THE FIELD

The importance of increasing productivity of the major crops to meet the demand of an expanding population is self-evident. What is not so obvious is how to achieve a significant improvement in a short time, and what tools we can rely upon to accomplish a second “green revolution”. The great majority of the contributors to the chapters of the book are teachers of advanced courses to graduate students in Biotechnology or to post-graduate students in Ph.D. programs and they feel that this book could be of interest for their students.

Roberto Pilu
Giuseppe Gavazzi
Università degli Studi di Milano
Department of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences
- Production, Landscapes, Agroenergy –
Milano, Italy

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