How molecular biology could reduce global food insecurity
The effects of climate change, including changing temperatures, rainfall variability, shifting patterns of agricultural pests and diseases and rising sea levels all contribute to decreased crop yields, heightening the future food insecurity of a growing human population. Mary Gehring, professor of biology at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) is using her expertise in plant epigenetics to help crops develop climate resilience through a 2021 seed grant from MIT’s Abdul Latif Jameel Water and Food Systems Lab (J-WAFS). Her research aims at discovering how we can accelerate the production of genetic diversity to generate plant populations that are better suited to challenging environmental conditions. In 2023, Mary formed part of the winning team of the J-WAFS Grand Challenge Grant for a project seeking to enhance the efficiency of photosynthesis in order to increase crop yield.