Combat climate change with biodiversity: high throughput phenotyping of banana diversity for suitability now and in the future
Clara Gambart is a PhD student at the Laboratory of Tropical Crop Improvement at KU Leuven (the University of Leuven, Belgium) and graduate research fellow at the One CGIAR (formerly the Consultative Group for International Agricultural Research). In 2019, she obtained her Master’s degree in Agricultural Sciences at the Faculty of Bioscience Engineering (KU Leuven). Triggered by her Master thesis, in which she investigated potential agro-ecological intensification strategies on banana-based farming systems, she started a PhD in 2019. Her objective was to acquire in-depth knowledge on the diversity of physiological responses of banana varieties to the current and future abiotic stresses, occurring in different agro-ecozones. Temperature is a major abiotic factor influencing plant development and, consequently, a major driving force behind geographical shifts in productive agricultural areas. Enhanced on-farm genetic diversity has been proposed as a valuable opportunity to maintain yield and alleviate yield gaps, especially under the pressure of climate change. Using the BananaTainer, a highly climate-controlled container with vertical farm design, she modeled variety-specific growth responses of more than 70 banana cultivars in relation to temperature. These variety-specific growth models showed considerable variation and enabled the prediction of suitable agro-ecozones for each specific variety under current and future climatic conditions. Screening of a wider range of varieties for temperature and other abiotic stresses will allow for the selection of adapted varieties to a given climate, thereby complying with the cultural- and taste-specific requirements of the local community. This characterization and evaluation will not only increase the diversity of suitable on-farm cultivars but will also allow for the identification of suitable germplasm for improvement through breeding.
Clara Gambart won the ISHS Young Minds Award for the best poster presentation at the XII International Symposium on Banana: Celebrating Banana Organic Production at IHC2022 in France in August 2022.
Clara Gambart, Laboratory of Tropical Crop Improvement, Department of Biosystems, KU Leuven, Willem de Croylaan 42, 3001 Heverlee, Belgium, e-mail: email@example.com
The article is available in Chronica Horticulturae