Are crop wild relatives (CWR) more trouble than they’re worth? There are certainly significant challenges involved in including them in breeding programmes, but you’d have thought that between the new molecular tools that are now out there, the greater numbers of CWR accessions in genebanks, and all the information about how useful CWRs can be, breeders would be falling over themselves to make those kinky inter-specific crosses. Well, according to a major review by our friends at Bioversity International (the outfit formerly known as the International Plant Genetic Resources Institute), the use of CWRs in breeding programmes has been steadily increasing in the past 20 years, but probably not as much as might have been expected. There’s been a number of papers recently on CWRs. This paper, also from Bioversity, looks at in situ conservation of CWR. Check out this for a discussion on the definition of the term, and, from some of the same people, there’s this overview of conservation and use of CWR, using a specific example. Here’s an example of conservation assessment and priority-setting for the wild relatives of the peanut. For a discussion of the possible effects of climate change on these species, see this.
3 Replies to “Crop wild relatives underused”
Bioversity is indeed leading the way ahead on crop wild relatives. A major GEf funded project is looking at the information system for in situ conservation in 5 countries Armenia, Bolivia, Madagascar, Sri lanka and Uzbekistan. The aims is to improve the effectiveness of protected areas in conserving CWR. Protected area managers are being motivated to consider the conservation of CWr in thier management plans.
We also have been conducting Red list training for assessing the treats and conservation status of cwr in these countries and countries are starting to make red listing of their species