Research Topic

Crop traits for defense against pests and disease: durability, breakdown and future prospects

About this Research Topic

With global populations expected to exceed 9.2 billion by 2050 and available land and water resources devoted to crop production dwindling, we face significant challenges to secure global food security. Only 12 plant species feed 80% of the world’s population, with just three crop species (wheat, rice and ...

With global populations expected to exceed 9.2 billion by 2050 and available land and water resources devoted to crop production dwindling, we face significant challenges to secure global food security. Only 12 plant species feed 80% of the world’s population, with just three crop species (wheat, rice and maize) accounting for food consumed by 50% of the global population. Losses to crop pests and pathogens are significant, thought to be equivalent to that required to feed a billion people, at a time when crop productivity has plateaued. With pesticide applications becoming increasingly unfeasible on cost, efficacy and environmental grounds, there is growing interest in exploiting plant resistance and tolerance traits for crop protection. Indeed, mankind has been selectively breeding plants for desirable traits for thousands of years. However, resistance and tolerance traits have not always been those most desired, and in many cases have been inadvertently lost during the domestication process. Crops have been effectively been ‘disarmed by domestication’. Moreover, mechanistic understanding of how resistance and tolerance traits operate is often incomplete which makes identifying the right combination for crop protection difficult.

We aim to address this Research Topic by defining what resistance and tolerance traits can do in terms of crop protection, exploring what is known about durability and breakdown of defensive traits and, finally, asking what are the prospects for exploiting these traits for crop protection.

The scope of this Topic will include:
1. Characterizing resistance and tolerance traits
2. Domestication and defensive trait loss
3. Climate change impacts on durability and breakdown of defensive traits
4. Breeding for resistance and tolerance in plants
5. Integration of plant traits with biological control

Complementarity with other Frontiers Topics: Our topic fits very well into the Crop Science and Horticulture section. To date, none of the 11 topics in this section have yet considered how crop traits affect biotic stress in the form of pests and pathogens. We therefore consider that this area is ripe for synthesis and makes a very timely and highly citable contribution to the literature and Frontiers in Plant Science in particular.


Important Note: All contributions to this Research Topic must be within the scope of the section and journal to which they are submitted, as defined in their mission statements. Frontiers reserves the right to guide an out-of-scope manuscript to a more suitable section or journal at any stage of peer review.

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