Wild relatives of key crops not protected in gene banks study finds

first_img Country * Afghanistan Aland Islands Albania Algeria Andorra Angola Anguilla Antarctica Antigua and Barbuda Argentina Armenia Aruba Australia Austria Azerbaijan Bahamas Bahrain Bangladesh Barbados Belarus Belgium Belize Benin Bermuda Bhutan Bolivia, Plurinational State of Bonaire, Sint Eustatius and Saba Bosnia and Herzegovina Botswana Bouvet Island Brazil British Indian Ocean Territory Brunei Darussalam Bulgaria Burkina Faso Burundi Cambodia Cameroon Canada Cape Verde Cayman Islands Central African Republic Chad Chile China Christmas Island Cocos (Keeling) Islands Colombia Comoros Congo Congo, the Democratic Republic of the Cook Islands Costa Rica Cote d’Ivoire Croatia Cuba Curaçao Cyprus Czech Republic Denmark Djibouti Dominica Dominican Republic Ecuador Egypt El Salvador Equatorial Guinea Eritrea Estonia Ethiopia Falkland Islands (Malvinas) Faroe Islands Fiji Finland France French Guiana French Polynesia French Southern Territories Gabon Gambia Georgia Germany Ghana Gibraltar Greece Greenland Grenada Guadeloupe Guatemala Guernsey Guinea Guinea-Bissau Guyana Haiti Heard Island and McDonald Islands Holy See (Vatican City State) Honduras Hungary Iceland India Indonesia Iran, Islamic Republic of Iraq Ireland Isle of Man Israel Italy Jamaica Japan Jersey Jordan Kazakhstan Kenya Kiribati Korea, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Republic of Kuwait Kyrgyzstan Lao People’s Democratic Republic Latvia Lebanon Lesotho Liberia Libyan Arab Jamahiriya Liechtenstein Lithuania Luxembourg Macao Macedonia, the former Yugoslav Republic of Madagascar Malawi Malaysia Maldives Mali Malta Martinique Mauritania Mauritius Mayotte Mexico Moldova, Republic of Monaco Mongolia Montenegro Montserrat Morocco Mozambique Myanmar Namibia Nauru Nepal Netherlands New Caledonia New Zealand Nicaragua Niger Nigeria Niue Norfolk Island Norway Oman Pakistan Palestine Panama Papua New Guinea Paraguay Peru Philippines Pitcairn Poland Portugal Qatar Reunion Romania Russian Federation Rwanda Saint Barthélemy Saint Helena, Ascension and Tristan da Cunha Saint Kitts and Nevis Saint Lucia Saint Martin (French part) Saint Pierre and Miquelon Saint Vincent and the Grenadines Samoa San Marino Sao Tome and Principe Saudi Arabia Senegal Serbia Seychelles Sierra Leone Singapore Sint Maarten (Dutch part) Slovakia Slovenia Solomon Islands Somalia South Africa South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands South Sudan Spain Sri Lanka Sudan Suriname Svalbard and Jan Mayen Swaziland Sweden Switzerland Syrian Arab Republic Taiwan Tajikistan Tanzania, United Republic of Thailand Timor-Leste Togo Tokelau Tonga Trinidad and Tobago Tunisia Turkey Turkmenistan Turks and Caicos Islands Tuvalu Uganda Ukraine United Arab Emirates United Kingdom United States Uruguay Uzbekistan Vanuatu Venezuela, Bolivarian Republic of Vietnam Virgin Islands, British Wallis and Futuna Western Sahara Yemen Zambia Zimbabwe Click to view the privacy policy. Required fields are indicated by an asterisk (*) Sign up for our daily newsletter Get more great content like this delivered right to you! Country The wild, sometimes scraggly cousins of grains and vegetables have a role to play in food security, but urgent action is needed to conserve them, says a new study published today in Nature Plants. The first global survey of the distribution and conservation of 1076 wild relatives of 81 crops finds that more than 95% are insufficiently safeguarded in the world’s gene banks, which store seeds and other plant tissues that can be used for future breeding efforts.Some 70% of the wild populations examined by the study, including the relatives of banana, cassava, wheat, and sorghum, are considered high priority for collection; 300 could not be located in any gene bank.Crop wild relatives are, in essence, evolutionary experiments. Without coddling from farmers, these hardy plants withstand drought, pests, and disease. As a result, they often evolve valuable traits that plant breeders could use to create varieties able to resist pests or maintain yields in the face of global warming. In the past, virus-resistant wild relatives of sugarcane and rice have helped produce new varieties that averted millions of dollars in losses.center_img Email “Our findings capture which critical regions around the world hold the wild diversity we need for the stability of global agriculture,” says study co-author Colin Khoury, a crop diversity specialist at the International Center for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT) in Cali, Colombia. Even though crop species have been moved all over the world, he says the historic home ranges of many crops are still relevant because wild relatives persist there.Some of these crop diversity hot spots include the Mediterranean, Near East, Asia, and southern Europe, the researchers found. And plants in these regions are facing growing threats, ranging from dramatic land-use change to civil unrest. “It’s a race against time to collect in areas that are war-torn, or subject to deforestation or rapid development,” says study co-author Nora Castañeda-Álvarez, a postdoc at CIAT.Because enhancing the conservation of crop wild relatives is one of the United Nations’s Sustainable Development Goals, the authors suggest that the study’s numbers could be used as a baseline for measuring progress toward meeting conservation goals.Collecting crop wild relatives will require a massive global effort, the researchers suggest. In recent decades, however, seed conservation and sharing efforts have been hampered at times by concerns about biopiracy, as nations have negotiated numerous international treaties and agreements that regulate the collection, movement, and equitable use of seeds and other genetic resources. “This paper comes out of a global effort to reopen borders and share crop genetic resources,” Khoury says.One effort—the largest to date to systematically collect wild gene pools—is already underway in 17 countries. It focuses on securing the wild relatives of 29 of 64 crops that are listed in an annex to the International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture. But crops not on that list, including the wild relatives of peanut, asparagus, or lettuce, are not included in the collecting effort, which is jointly run by the Kew Millennium Seed Bank in Wakehurst, U.K., and the Global Crop Diversity Trust (GCDT) in Bonn, Germany.Organizers ultimately hope to expand the effort to more countries, says Hannes Dempewolf, project manager at GCDT. But plant collectors have had difficulty negotiating agreements in certain countries for a variety of reasons, including a lack of suitable institutions to coordinate collecting work and the absence of seed-sharing regulations.Axel Diederichsen, curator of Plant Gene Resources of Canada in Saskatoon, says the new study’s effort to document and map missing wild diversity is valuable. Still, he questions whether the international gene bank system has the funding and infrastructure to absorb all of the at-risk populations. “Do we have the capacity to conserve, much less utilize, all this diversity?” he asks. “It’s not trivial.”last_img

Be the first to comment on "Wild relatives of key crops not protected in gene banks study finds"

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published.