An International symposium in honour of Gian Tommaso Scarascia Mugnozza, “Genetics and Breeding of Durum Wheat: Forty years later
Forty years ago, 144 scientists from 22 countries met in Bari, Italy, to discuss for the first time advances in Genetics and Breeding of Durum Wheat, organized by Gian Tommaso Scarascia Mugnozza from the University of Bari under the auspices of Eucarpia, the meeting included invited lectures and presentations which highlighted the crop’s problems in the different cultivation areas and research progress in Genetics and Cytogenetics, Genetic Resources, Male-Sterility, Breeding for yield, diseases and pest resistance, nutritional and technological quality.
Since Bari, scientists have met in several conferences/symposia and regional networks have been organized under the auspices of different regional and international organizations. These meetings, their proceedings and scientific reviews and papers produced a comprehensive compilation of durum wheat knowledge for scientists, from the species’ origins in the Fertile Crescent to its current role as one of the most important cereals in human consumption. The latest of such international meetings took place in Bologna in 2008 under the name “From seed to pasta” and highlighted the latest research findings with emphasis on the use of modern scientific tools in strategic and applied research on this crop.
However, whereas options and interest for its utilization are increasing, the scientific community needs to recognize that factors challenging durum wheat production and its global sustainability remain unresolved and require continued mobilization. Durum Wheat is a main staple food crop in some marginal areas where it is critical to food security and income generation for resources limited farmers. Traditional diseases, pests and environmental stresses continue to heavily limit crop production and to downgrade the commercial and utilization value of its harvested grain. Climate change will not only worsen these constraints but is also pushing durum wheat cultivation toward higher latitude areas, where it will experience unfamiliar pests, diseases, weeds and different soil types. The range of products made from durum wheat is widening and their consumption increasing in regions where it is not cultivated and/or its products were not part of traditional consumption, pushing us to reconsider the key characteristics needed to obtain suitable processing quality. At the same time, advances in science are providing better research options and breeding strategies that can be used in developing varieties able to provide a sustainable production under these scenarios of more constraining environments and changing consumption trends.
In this context, the Accademia Nazionale delle Scienze detta dei XL in collaboration with the Consiglio Nazionale delle Ricerche, ICARDA, CIMMYT, FAO, CIHEAM and ENEA, and the support of CRA, SIGA, Syngenta, Barilla, Società Italiana Sementi, Divella, Perten Instruments, Rummo and Wintersteiger has organized the present International Symposium on “Genetics and Breeding of Durum Wheat“. Dedicated to the late President of the Accademia Nazionale delle Scienze, Gian Tommaso Scarascia Mugnozza, the meeting provides an opportunity for the international durum wheat researchers community to gather and share results of research activities and progress made in the area of durum wheat genetics and breeding and discuss ways to address local, regional and international challenges that jeopardize the sustainability of durum wheat production.