Currently, greater than 20% of net plant productivity is removed annually by insect herbivores in fruit and vegetable cropping systems. This loss could be exacerbated by elevated CO2 level due to the increased crop vulnerability to insect pest and disease. With the projected record-high CO2 level, and 70% higher demand for food production by mid-century, it is necessary for the BC agricultural sector to prepare for ongoing environmental change now to remain competitive.
Researchers at UBC propose to adopt a coupled ecological-genomics approach to prepare for and mitigate these agricultural challenges. This project will use transcriptomics to identify specific genes of tomato related to defense signaling that perform well under elevated CO2 and that can be targeted for plant breeding and further evaluation long-term.
Tomato is not only an important food crop worldwide, but also a model for plant-insect interactions and crop genomics. The results will be relevant to the field, high-tunnel, and greenhouse tomato industry, and to field-grown fruit and vegetable crops (economically important to BC). Immediate benefits to BC growers will be realized through the presentation and discussion of the results of this research to the community of growers associated with the UBC Centre for Sustainable Food Systems (UBC Farm), to inform and prepare farmers for climate change related variability in pest pressure.