Syrian seed may save US wheat crop

An interesting story revealed by the British news paper The Guardian regarding the role of seeds of a Syrian plant capable of saving the wheat crop in the United States.

Against a background of swarms of flies, and among the 20,000 lesions infected by pests at one of the laboratory nurseries at the University of Kansas, there remained one seedlings not infected by the lesion.

The seedling was a type of “Aegilops tauschii”, a plant species that follows the genus Dosser, and the homeland of the Levant.

Now, these Syrian seeds, located in a cellar outside the city of Aleppo, can save the US wheat crop from the effects of climate change in recent years.

In 2000-2015, temperatures in the United States rose by about 1-2 degrees Fahrenheit from their 20th century levels, and the intervals between precipitations varied, according to the Environmental Protection Agency, meaning that in some areas, such as the Midwest In the United States, it has become weather-like in the Middle East.

Wheat crops in these areas have been affected by high temperatures and production rates are expected to fall by 4% annually due to the inability of agricultural pesticides to control crop pests under these climatic conditions.

The scientists reacted by searching for natural resistance to pests in hot areas, and found them in the heart of the fertile crescent, in Syria, the cradle of domesticated agriculture.

One of the most important seed banks in the world is located in the village of Tal Hadiya, 40 km west of Aleppo.

It is managed by the International Center for Agricultural Research in the Dry Areas (ICARDA), which is responsible for preserving the seeds of warm areas.

These seeds are genetically modified to maintain their strategic characteristics that enable them to control pests under difficult climatic conditions, particularly the wheat fly and colored barley, which is famous in the Middle East, and is now moving north to create conditions for life in states such as Kansas, Oklahoma, Texas, Colorado and Nebraska.

Ming-Shen Zhen explains that cold winters usually killed fly larvae before they grew, but the onset of winter late each year due to climate change allowed these larvae to grow flies and infect crops.

Chen, with the help of the scientist, Jesse Bulland, conducted a series of experiments on all kinds of wheat seeds from Kansas and surrounding areas, as well as seeds from Syria, to discover that the only seeds that managed to counter the pests were the Syrian Dosser Aegilops tauschii seedlings.

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