Elevating South Australia's Innovative Women
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2017 Science

Caitlyn Byrt

The yields of many of our stable food crops are limited due to challenging growing
environments. Within the diversity of plant varieties there are some wild grasses that are
better at tolerating environmental stress than our important food crops. Caitlin is in the
business of studying plants that differ in their tolerance to such stresses to determine what
makes some plants more tolerant than others, and testing how we can use this information
to modify our food crops to improve their performance in harsh environments. She has
identified genes in wheat that contribute to salinity tolerance. By breeding one of these
genes into commercial durum wheat varieties, we successfully increased the grain yield on
saline soils by 25%.