Unraveling the genetic components of perenniality: Toward breeding for perennial grains
Publication: Plants, People, Planet
Although tremendously successful at feeding humanity, row crop agriculture based on annuals contributes to numerous ecosystem dis-services, ranging from soil degradation and aquatic eutrophication to greenhouse gas production. In contrast, perennial grain crops (which produce harvests for multiple seasons from single plantings) have the potential to provide valuable regulating and supporting ecosystem services in addition to food production. In particular, losses of ecological capital that threaten permanent food insecurity such as ~1% of global soil per year are expected to be mitigated or even reversed by crops that combine the high yield realized by scientific breeding via multiple cropping cycles from single plantings.
Perennial herbaceous may provide food and biomass while preserving ecological capital and reducing energy inputs. Sorghum has two perennial relatives and rich morphological diversity being used to breed for perenniality.