Harvests that form a vital element of the diets of 4.5 billion people are being devastated by global heating. Now research has found a key to create a heat-resistant variety
It is the plant that changed humanity. Thanks to the cultivation of wheat, Homo sapiens was able to feed itself in ever-increasing numbers, transforming groups of hunter-gatherers struggling to survive in a hostile world into rulers of the planet.
In the process, a species of wild grass that was once confined to a small part of the Middle East now covers vast stretches of the Earth. As the historian Yuval Noah Harari has observed: “In the great plains of North America, where not a single wheat stalk grew 10,000 years ago, you can today walk for hundreds upon hundreds of kilometres without encountering any other plant.”