Elina Adhikari, Women in Triticum Early Career winner from Nepal, is a plant geneticist at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. The research associate’s current research projects aim to conduct genetic mapping and develop methods for optimizing genetic gain through plant breeding. She earned her undergraduate degree in 2012 from Tribhuvan University in Nepal, an MS from North Dakota State University, and a Ph.D. in Genetics from Kansas State University. At Kansas State, she worked under the supervision of Eduard Akhunov on a dissertation examining the genomic basis of eco-geographic adaptation in wild relatives of wheat for improving drought and heat tolerance in bread wheat. The preliminary field trials demonstrated that some of the inter-specific lines with wild relative introgression outperform the best checks suggesting that the genetic diversity in wild relatives could be utilized for breeding climate-resilient wheat varieties.
In my view, climate change is one of the greatest threat facing wheat production for years to come. The rapidly changing climate may lead to highly unusual weather patterns during the wheat growing season. These unusual weather pattern may contribute to the emergence of new diseases, degrade land qualities, exacerbate abiotic stress, and may even reduce the arable land around the world. All of these likely increase the yield loss from drought and diseases contributing to more challenges in improving the wheat and in meeting global food demand.