A new discussion/review paper that I contributed to has just been published in the journal Current Opinion in Plant Biology. Entitled “How can an understanding of plant–pollinator interactions contribute to global food security?” the paper was written in collaboration with Professor Beverley Glover and her PhD students Emily Bailes and Jonathan Pattrick at the University of Cambridge.
The abstract and highlights are copied below; if anyone wants a PDF of the full paper, send me an email or ask in the comments section.
Pollination of crops by animals is an essential part of global food production, but evidence suggests that wild pollinator populations may be declining while a number of problems are besetting managed honey bee colonies. Animal-pollinated crops grown today, bred in an environment where pollination was less likely to limit fruit set, are often suboptimal in attracting and sustaining their pollinator populations. Research into plant–pollinator interactions is often conducted in a curiosity-driven, ecological framework, but may inform breeding and biotechnological approaches to enhance pollinator attraction and crop yield. In this article we review key topics in current plant–pollinator research that have potential roles in future crop breeding for enhanced global food security.
- Animals are globally, and increasingly, important for the improved yield and quality of many crops.
- Floral traits are a promising and little explored avenue for the improvement of crop yields.
- Work surrounding plant–pollinator interactions can inform us on the best strategies to do this.
- Coordinating crop flowering time with key lifecycle stages of pollinators could benefit both crop yields and pollinators.