How hybrid plant varieties could address the challenges of food security and climate change

Variation in the occurrence of sexual organs in plants. Credit: Nature Plants (2022). DOI: 10.1038/s41477-022-01142-w

Hybrid agricultural and horticultural crops can play an important role in supporting global food security. They produce higher yields and are often more resistant than non-hybrid varieties to diseases and climate stress. But for many crops, no hybrid varieties are available. Why is that?

Maize is a globally very important crop, and the use of hybrid varieties is routine. The first type was introduced as far back as 1930. But that hasn’t happened for other major crops such as wheat and cassava. Now, for the first time, a comprehensive study has been done of all the factors that determine whether commercial plant breeders can come up with a hybrid variety. Sometimes there are biological challenges. Often, economic factors come into play.

It’s a uniquely comprehensive survey, published in the journal Nature Plants. The authors

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