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Mathematical models could hold the key to the future of global food security. This is the news coming out of a recent meeting of mathematicians and crop scientists in Morocco where mathematical models are being developed to identify genetic material that could help improve food crops resilience to climate change. Experts warn that drought, pest and disease are becoming more prevalent than in the past, all of which are expected to worsen with future climate change.

While there are over 1,700 major agricultural genebanks housing over 7 million samples across the world, researchers have so far had the painstaking task of trying to locate the much sought-after traits that would enable the development of climate–proof crops able to withstand heat and drought conditions.

Mathematical models are therefore being developed which would help focus the search and reducing the time taken to locate the precious traits. Rather than employ the use of ‘trial and error’, the model, known as the Figs system, would target samples with a high probability of finding the given traits. A paper published last year presented some of the inroads already made by this new model – where the Figs system successfully identified drought-resistant traits in samples of faba beans. Mathematicians looking for some critical and topical applications of their discipline need look no further, while HSPS, Biological Science and Geography students should harvest all this information before interview time.

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