Preparing Crops for Climate Change Focus of 2019 York Lecture

As temperatures rise and the atmosphere changes, how can science help our crops remain productive? Noted plant biologist Lisa Ainsworth will present research on how agriculture can adapt to climate change at the 2019 E.T. York Lecture.

The free event is set for 2 p.m., November 5 at the Harn Museum of Art’s Chandler Auditorium. The UF Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences is hosting the event, which will be streamed live.

Ainsworth’s presentation is titled “Understanding and Improving Crop Responses to Global Atmospheric Change.”

Ainsworth, whose laboratory is located at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, is a scientist with the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Agricultural Research Service in the Global Change and Photosynthesis Research Unit. Her lab studies how plants respond to climate stressors, such as higher temperatures, drought, and increased levels of carbon dioxide and ozone in the atmosphere.

By understanding how plants respond to environmental change, Ainsworth hopes to uncover the factors and traits that make plants more resilient. Her lab is currently testing how different strains of maize (corn) and soybean, two staple crops globally, respond to changes in ozone and carbon dioxide, with the goal of identifying the genes that help these crops remain productive under these conditions.

“Agriculture always involves uncertainty. But climate change is probably the biggest source of uncertainty with respect to food production in the years to come. The question on everyone’s mind is, how will we grow enough food to feed the world population, which is predicted to reach 10 billion by 2050?” said Jack Payne, UF senior vice president for agriculture and natural resources. “Dr. Ainsworth has devoted her career to answering that question. Her lab’s efforts to model climate change and identify plant traits suited to climate change is innovative and exciting.”

The York Distinguished Lecturer Series was established in 1984 through an endowment from Dr. and Mrs. E. T. York, Jr.

The lecture series seeks to enrich public understanding of key scientific issues, with the goal of advancing the wellbeing of people and communities. Speakers, who are nominated by UF/IFAS faculty, are globally recognized leaders in agriculture, natural resources and human systems. In addition to their presentations, invited scholars meet with UF faculty and students, and can continue their relationship with the university as a visiting professor.

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