Skip to main content

Thank you for visiting nature.com. You are using a browser version with limited support for CSS. To obtain the best experience, we recommend you use a more up to date browser (or turn off compatibility mode in Internet Explorer). In the meantime, to ensure continued support, we are displaying the site without styles and JavaScript.

Intraspecific diversity as a reservoir for heat-stress tolerance in sweet potato

Abstract

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.

Access options

Rent or Buy article

Get time limited or full article access on ReadCube.

from$8.99

All prices are NET prices.

Fig. 1: World map of the 1973 sweet potato cultivars and breeding lines tested in the intentional exposure and control trial for HS tolerance.
Fig. 2: Impact of heat stress on the performance of 1,973 sweet potato cultivars and breeding lines.
Fig. 3: Random forest analysis of intrinsic and extrinsic predictors of root yield in 1,973 sweet potato cultivars and breeding lines.
Fig. 4: Predicted climate stress by 2070 to be experienced by 1,472 sweet potato cultivars and breeding lines showing different levels of HS tolerance.

Data availability

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.

Code availability

The analytical scripts are available using this: https://doi.org/10.5281/zenodo.3996548.

References

  1. 1.

    Reynolds, M. P. (eds) Climate Change and Crop Production (CABI Publishing, 2010).

  2. 2.

    Morales-Castilla, I. et al. Diversity buffers winegrowing regions from climate change losses. Proc. Natl Acad. Sci. USA 117, 2864–2869 (2020).

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  3. 3.

    Nicotra, A. B. et al. Plant phenotypic plasticity in a changing climate. Trends Plant Sci. 15, 684–692 (2010).

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  4. 4.

    Bellon, M. R., Hodson, D. & Hellin, J. Assessing the vulnerability of traditional maize seed systems in Mexico to climate change. Proc. Natl Acad. Sci. USA 108, 13432–13437 (2011).

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  5. 5.

    Driedonks, N., Rieu, I. & Vriezen, W. H. Breeding for plant heat tolerance at vegetative and reproductive stages. Plant Reprod. 29, 67–79 (2016).

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  6. 6.

    Mercer, K. L. & Perales, H. Evolutionary response of landraces to climate change in centers of crop diversity. Evol. Appl. 3, 480–493 (2010).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  7. 7.

    FAOSTAT (FAO, 2020); http://www.fao.org/faostat/en/#home

  8. 8.

    Gibson, R., Mwanga, R. O. M., Namanda, S., Jeremiah, S. C. & Barker, I. Review of Sweetpotato Seed Systems in East and Southern Africa Working Paper 2009-1 (International Potato Center, 2009).

  9. 9.

    Laurie, R. N., Laurie, S. M., Du Plooy, C. P., Finnie, J. F. & Van Staden, J. Yield of drought-stressed sweet potato in relation to canopy cover, stem length and stomatal conductance. J. Agric. Sci. 7, 201–214 (2015).

    Google Scholar 

  10. 10.

    Yang et al. High-throughput deep sequencing reveals the important role that microRNAs play in the salt response in sweet potato (Ipomoea batatas L.). BMC Genomics 21, 164 (2020).

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  11. 11.

    Warren, J. F. Typhoons and droughts: food shortages and famine in the Philippines since the seventeenth century. Int. Rev. Environ. Hist. 4, 27–44 (2018).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  12. 12.

    Challinor, A. J. et al. A meta-analysis of crop yield under climate change and adaptation. Nat. Clim. Change 4, 287–291 (2014).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  13. 13.

    Roullier, C. et al. Disentangling the origins of cultivated sweet potato (Ipomoea batatas (L.) Lam.). PLoS ONE 8, e62707 (2013).

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  14. 14.

    Kassali, R. Economics of sweet potato production. Int. J. Veg. Sci. 17, 313–321 (2011).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  15. 15.

    Omotobora, B. O., Adebola, P. O., Modise, D. M., Laurie, S. M. & Gerrano, A. S. Greenhouse and field evaluation of selected sweetpotato (Ipomoea batatas (L.) Lam.) accessions for drought tolerance in South Africa. Am. J. Plant Sci. 5, 3328–3339 (2014).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  16. 16.

    Woolfe, J. A. Sweetpotato: An Untapped Food Resource (Cambridge Univ. Press, 1992).

  17. 17.

    Jayne, T. S., Villareal, M., Pingali, P. & Hemrich, G. Interactions between the Agricultural Sector and the HIV/AIDS Pandemic: Implications for Agricultural Policy ESA Working Paper No. 04-46 (FAO, 2004).

  18. 18.

    Lebot, V. in Root and Tuber Crops (ed. Bradshaw, J. E.) 97–125 (Springer, 2010).

  19. 19.

    Zhao et al. Temperature increase reduces global yields of major crops in four independent estimates. Proc. Natl Acad. Sci. USA 114, 9326–9331 (2017).

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  20. 20.

    Lobell, D. B., Schlenker, W. & Costa-Roberts, J. Climate trends and global crop production since 1980. Science 333, 616–620 (2011).

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  21. 21.

    Nangombe et al. Record-breaking climate extremes in Africa under stabilized 1.5 °C and 2 °C global warming scenarios. Nat. Clim. Change 8, 375–380 (2018).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  22. 22.

    Seneviratne, S. I. et al. in Special Report on Managing the Risks of Extreme Events and Disasters to Advance Climate Change Adaptation (eds Field, C. B. et al.) 109–230 (Cambridge Univ. Press, 2012).

  23. 23.

    O’sullivan et al. Thermal limits of leaf metabolism across biomes. Glob. Change Biol. 23, 209–223 (2017).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  24. 24.

    Tack, J., Lingenfelser, J. & Jagadish, S. K. Disaggregating sorghum yield reductions under warming scenarios exposes narrow genetic diversity in US breeding programs. Proc. Natl Acad. Sci. USA 114, 9296–9301 (2017).

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  25. 25.

    Araújo et al. Heat freezes niche evolution. Ecol. Lett. 16, 1206–1219 (2013).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  26. 26.

    Singh, K. D. & Mandal, R. C. Performance of coleus and sweet potato in relation to seasonal variations, time of planting. J. Root Crops 2, 17–22 (1976).

    Google Scholar 

  27. 27.

    Gajanayake, B. R., Reddy, K., Shankle, M. W., Arancibia, R. A. & Villordon, A. Quantifying storage root initiation, growth, and developmental responses of sweetpotato to early season temperature. Agr. J. 106, 1795–1804 (2014).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  28. 28.

    Boeck, H. J. D., Velde, H. V. D., Groote, T. D. & Nijs, I. Ideas and perspectives: heat stress: more than hot air. Biogeosciences 13, 5821–5825 (2016).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  29. 29.

    Wahid, A., Gelani, S., Ashraf, M. & Foolad, M. Heat tolerance in plants: an overview. Environ. Exp. Bot. 61, 199–223 (2007).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  30. 30.

    Bita, C. & Gerats, T. Plant tolerance to high temperature in a changing environment: scientific fundamentals and production of heat stress-tolerant crops. Front. Plant Sci. 4, 273 (2013).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  31. 31.

    Jones, H. G. Plants and Microclimate: A Quantitative Approach to Environmental Plant Physiology (Cambridge Univ. Press, 2013).

  32. 32.

    Dong, N., Prentice, I. C., Harrison, S. P., Song, Q. H. & Zhang, Y. P. Biophysical homoeostasis of leaf temperature: a neglected process for vegetation and land-surface modelling. Glob. Ecol. Biogeogr. 26, 998–1007 (2017).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  33. 33.

    Reynolds, M. P. et al. Evaluating physiological traits to complement empirical selection for wheat in warm environments. Euphytica 100, 84–95 (1998).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  34. 34.

    Park, S. et al. Orange protein has a role in phytoene synthase stabilization in sweetpotato. Sci. Rep. 6, 33563 (2016).

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  35. 35.

    Pironon, S. et al. Potential adaptive strategies for 29 sub-Saharan crops under future climate change. Nat. Clim. Change 9, 758–763 (2019).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  36. 36.

    Herrera, J. M. et al. Lessons from 20 years of studies of wheat genotypes in multiple environments and under contrasting production systems. Front. Plant Sci. 10, 1745 (2020).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  37. 37.

    Khoury, C. K. et al. Distributions, ex situ conservation priorities, and genetic resource potential of crop wild relatives of sweetpotato [Ipomoea batatas (L.) Lam., I. series Batatas]. Front. Plant Sci. 6, 251 (2015).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  38. 38.

    Alwang, J. et al. Pathways from research on improved staple crop germplasm to poverty reduction for smallholder farmers. Agric. Sys. 172, 16–27 (2019).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  39. 39.

    Pilling, D., Bélanger, J. & Hoffmann, I. Declining biodiversity for food and agriculture needs urgent global action. Nat. Food 1, 144–147 (2020).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  40. 40.

    Renard, D. & Tilman, D. National food production stabilized by crop diversity. Nature 571, 257–260 (2019).

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  41. 41.

    Beck, H. et al. Present and future Köppen-Geiger climate classification maps at 1-km resolution. Sci. Data 5, 180214 (2018).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  42. 42.

    Patterson, H. D. & Williams, E. R. A new class of resolvable incomplete block designs. Biometrika 63, 83–92 (1976).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  43. 43.

    Kumar, A. et al. Improving the efficiency of wheat breeding experiments using alpha lattice design over randomized complete block design. Cereal Res. Commun. 48, 95–101 (2020).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  44. 44.

    Khan, M. et al. Comparative efficiency of alpha lattice design and complete randomized block design in wheat, maize and potato field trials. J. Res. Dev. Manag. 11, 115–118 (2015).

    Google Scholar 

  45. 45.

    Faye, E., Rebaudo, F., Yánez-Cajo, D., Cauvy-Fraunié, S. & Dangles, O. A toolbox for studying thermal heterogeneity across spatial scales: from unmanned aerial vehicle imagery to landscape metrics. Methods Ecol. Evol. 7, 437–446 (2016).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  46. 46.

    Liaw, A. & Wiener, M. Classification and regression by randomForest. R News 2, 18–22 (2002).

    Google Scholar 

  47. 47.

    Fick, S. E. & Hijmans, R. J. WorldClim 2: new 1-km spatial resolution climate surfaces for global land areas. Int. J. Clim. 37, 4302–4315 (2017).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  48. 48.

    Knox, J., Hess, T., Daccache, A. & Wheeler, T. Climate change impacts on crop productivity in Africa and South Asia. Environ. Res. Lett. 7, 034032 (2012).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  49. 49.

    Adoption of the Paris Agreement FCC/CP/2015/L.9/Rev.1 (UNFCCC, 2015).

Download references

Acknowledgements

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.

Author information

Affiliations

Authors

Contributions

B.H. designed the research; B.H., R.E., J.E.P., C.F. and E.F. performed research and collected data; B.H., R.E., Q.S., E.F. and O.D. analysed data; O.D. led the writing with contributions from B.H., Q.S., R.E. and S.d.H.

Corresponding authors

Correspondence to Bettina Heider or Olivier Dangles.

Ethics declarations

Competing interests

The authors declare no competing interests.

Additional information

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.

Publisher’s note Springer Nature remains neutral with regard to jurisdictional claims in published maps and institutional affiliations.

Extended data

Extended Data Fig. 1 Geographic origin of 132 heat resistant cultivars of sweetpotatoes.

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. Source data

Extended Data Fig. 2 Root yield under heat stress conditions of 1973 sweetpotato 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. Source data

Supplementary information

Supplementary Information

Supplementary Tables 2–4 and Figs. 1–5.

Reporting Summary

Supplementary Table

List of the 1,973 sweet potato accessions.

Source data

Source Data Fig. 1

Source numerical data.

Source Data Fig. 2

Source numerical data.

Source Data Fig. 3

Source numerical data.

Source Data Fig. 4

Source numerical data.

Source Data Extended Data Fig. 1

Source numerical data.

Source Data Extended Data Fig. 2

Source numerical data.

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Verify currency and authenticity via CrossMark

Cite this article

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

Download citation

Further reading

Search

Quick links

Nature Briefing

Sign up for the Nature Briefing newsletter — what matters in science, free to your inbox daily.

Get the most important science stories of the day, free in your inbox. Sign up for Nature Briefing