Genomic approaches to enhance adaptive plasticity to cope with soil constraints amidst climate change in wheat

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Publication Date


Journal Title

The Plant Genome




adaptive plasticity; climate change; wheat; genome


Agricultural Science | Agriculture | Agronomy and Crop Sciences | Plant Breeding and Genetics


Climate change is varying the availability of resources, soil physicochemical properties, and rainfall events, which collectively determines soil physical and chemical properties. Soil constraints—acidity (pH < 6), salinity (pH ≤ 8.5), sodicity, and dispersion (pH > 8.5)—are major causes of wheat yield loss in arid and semiarid cropping systems. To cope with changing environments, plants employ adaptive strategies such as phenotypic plasticity, a key multifaceted trait, to promote shifts in phenotypes. Adaptive strategies for constrained soils are complex, determined by key functional traits and genotype × environment × management interactions. The understanding of the molecular basis of stress tolerance is particularly challenging for plasticity traits. Advances in sequencing and high-throughput genomics technologies have identified functional alleles in gene-rich regions, haplotypes, candidate genes, mechanisms, and in silico gene expression profiles at various growth developmental stages. Our review focuses on favorable alleles for enhanced gene expression, quantitative trait loci, and epigenetic regulation of plant responses to soil constraints, including heavy metal stress and nutrient limitations. A strategy is then described for quantitative traits in wheat by investigating significant alleles and functional characterization of variants, followed by gene validation using advanced genomic tools, and marker development for molecular breeding and genome editing. Moreover, the review highlights the progress of gene editing in wheat, multiplex gene editing, and novel alleles for smart control of gene expression. Application of these advanced genomic technologies to enhance plasticity traits along with soil management practices will be an effective tool to build yield, stability, and sustainability on constrained soils in the face of climate change.