Wheat yields are predicted to decrease over the next decades due to climate change (CC). Mediterranean regions are characterized by low soil fertility and stressful conditions that limit the effect of technological improvements on increasing yield gains, while worsening the negative CC impacts. Additionally, organic farming (OF) lacks specifically adapted genetic material. Accordingly, there is a need to search for varieties adapted to these conditions and whose cultivation may help semi-arid agroecosystems sustainability, focusing on specific agronomic and functional traits. To this purpose, wheat landraces and modern wheat varieties were evaluated under Mediterranean rainfed conditions during three growing seasons under contrasting situations: A conventional farm and an organic farm. Results regarding straw production, weed biomass and biodiversity, and grain N concentration suggest that the cultivation of landraces under Mediterranean rainfed conditions can enhance agroecosystem sustainability through positive effects on ecosystem services such as soil quality, functional biodiversity, or grain protein content, without significant reductions in grain yield. Results highlight the relevant role of wheat landraces as genetic resources for the development of cultivars adapted to Mediterranean agroecosystems conditions, especially for organic farming, but also for conventional agriculture.
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