Uncovering The Wild Genetic Diversity In Chenopodium Spp. For Improvement Of Heat Stress Tolerance In Quinoa

Quinoa (Chenopodium quinoa Willd.), is a semi-domesticated, pseudo-cereal crop that originated in the Andes. Due to the exceptional nutritive value of its seeds, ability to be grown in poor soils and tolerance to several abiotic stresses (including drought, salinity and frost), quinoa has gained increasing interest worldwide and in the Arabic Peninsula. Yet, quinoa performs poorly in environments where temperatures reach above 35°C, which represents a major threat to the production in its native environment, and a major limitation on the expansion of quinoa as a major crop beyond the Andes in the context of climate changes. We are exploring heat stress tolerance mechanisms in the North- and South-American wild relatives of C. quinoa, namely C. hircinum and C. berlandieri respectively, in order to improve the resilience of quinoa to high temperatures during reproductive developmental stages. Quinoa wild populations originate from some of the hottest environments in South and North America, hence we hypnotize that they possess previously unexplored mechanisms of adaptation to high temperatures, that are not present, but could be transferred, into cultivated quinoa. Here we report on the morphological and physiological characterization of the response to heat stress in a sub-collection of sixteen wild and cultivated quinoa genotypes. Our preliminary results confirm superior heat stress tolerance of the wild relative, and pave the way to further in-depth molecular and genetic analyses to identify the underlying genetic basis for differences in tolerance to high temperatures. Given the importance of quinoa as a crop for food security in the future, and the need to identify plant adaptation strategies as soon as possible to maintain our agricultural system in the context of adverse environmental and climatic conditions, this scientific work is of the highest priority for a more environmentally sustainable agronomical system in The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.

Conference/Event Name
KAUST Workshop for sustainable food security

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