Stable and sufficient food supplies are increasingly threatened by climatic variability, in particular extreme heat events. Intraspecific crop diversity may be an important biological resource to both understand and maintain crop resilience to extreme conditions. Here using data from a mass field experiment screening for heat tolerance in sweet potato (Ipomoea batatas), we identify 132 heat-tolerant cultivars and breeding lines (6.7%) out of 1,973 investigated. Sweet potato is the world’s fifth most important food crop, and mean conditions experienced by sweet potato by 2070 are predicted to be 1 to 6 °C warmer, negatively impacting most genotypes. We identify canopy temperature depression, chlorophyll content and storage root-flesh colour as predictors of heat tolerance and, therefore, as potential traits for breeding consideration. These results highlight the role of intraspecific biodiversity for the productivity and resilience of food and agricultural systems in the face of climate change.
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A full description of sweet potato varieties is provided in Supplementary Table 1. Agronomic, morphological and climate data are available at https://data.cipotato.org/dataset.xhtml?persistentId=doi%3A10.21223%2F72U7NB. Other data are available at https://doi.org/10.5281/zenodo.3996548. Source data are provided with this paper.
The analytical scripts are available using this: https://doi.org/10.5281/zenodo.3996548.
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This research was undertaken as part of, and funded by, the CGIAR Research Program on Roots, Tubers and Bananas (RTB) and supported by CGIAR Fund Donors. We thank all donors who supported this research through their contributions to the CGIAR Fund: http://www.cgiar.org/about-us/our-funders/. The financial support by the McKnight Foundation to Q.S. is greatly appreciated. We thank V. Vadez, IRD Montpellier, for his comments on a previous version of the manuscript.
The authors declare no competing interests.
Peer review information Nature Climate Change thanks Samuel Pironon, Delphine Renard and the other, anonymous, reviewer(s) for their contribution to the peer review of this work.
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The total number of cultivars is given for each country, classified by continent. B. Compared proportions of each continent of origin between all cultivars and heat tolerant cultivars.
The cultivars were grouped according to their flesh color: orange (including dark orange, intermediate orange and pale orange), cream (including dark cream and cream) and yellow (including dark yellow and pale yellow). P-values refer to a Wilcoxon test. Strongly pigmented cultivars with anthocyanins were discarded due to their low occurrence in the data set. All root yields are expressed on a log scale.
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Heider, B., Struelens, Q., Faye, É. et al. Intraspecific diversity as a reservoir for heat-stress tolerance in sweet potato. Nat. Clim. Chang. 11, 64–69 (2021). https://doi.org/10.1038/s41558-020-00924-4
Nature Climate Change (2021)