Without active in situ management, genetic diversity within and between individual crop wild relative
populations could be eroded and entire populations could even go extinct.
"The real importance of these crop wild relatives
is that in order to survive in the world they've had to adapt to hostile environmental changes," Oriole Wagstaff of the Crop Wild Relatives
project at Kew's botanic garden at Wakehurst in Sussex said.
Chris Richards, a population geneticist at the NCGRP who has worked with crop wild relatives
for 15 years.
In practice, this means greatly strengthening the global system of local, regional and international plant gene banks, where seeds and their invaluable genetic information are stored in perpetuity, setting up nature reserves where crop wild relatives
can grow safely, and supporting farmers to conserve and use traditional crop varieties.
It was in this context that the conference "Towards the Establishment of Genetic Reserves for Crop Wild Relatives
and Landraces in Europe" was held at Funchal, Portugal during September 2010.
PGRs, plant genetic resources; CGIAR, Consultative Group on International Agricultural Researches; CWR, crop wild relatives
; MA, marker-assited PCR; GMOs, genetically modified organisms; DNA, Deoxyribonucleic acid; PCR, polymerase chain reaction; AFLP, amplified fragment length polymorphism; QTL, quantitative trait locus; eQTL, expression quantitative trait loci; SNP, single nucleotide polymorphism
"Crop Wild Relatives
: A Manual of IN SITU Conservation" analyzes this natural phenomenon and how it can be used effectively in agricultural situations and how understanding why it happens and how it happens can be an important avenue for maintaining biodiversity and sustainable farming for the future.
The material is organized into crop chapters, each of which covers general biological information of the crop; the most important crop wild relatives
together with information about their ploidy levels, diverse genomes, centers of origin, and geographic distribution; the crop's potential for hybridization with its wild relatives; pollen flow studies related to pollen dispersal distances and hybridization rates; the current state of the genetic modification technology regarding that crop; and research gaps.
THE MAJORITY of world crops originated in today's developing countries in so-called Vavilov centers, regions that hold a high diversity of traditional crop varieties and crop wild relatives
. These regions hold the main genetic resources for crops and are especially important to secure current and future plant breeding programs.
Stored are also a number of crop wild relatives
, wild plants genetically close to industrial crops.
The tool is an interactive atlas designed to provide Guatemalan scientists and land managers with information on where these crop wild relatives
grow, where they are relatively safe from habitat destruction, and which ones are rare and most at risk.
Conserving plant genetic diversity in protected areas; population management of crop wild relatives