As climates change and the global population keeps increasing, crop production and food security is under threat. Current cultivars lack adaptive mechanisms, so securing potential genetic diversity in crop wild relatives (CWR) is crucial.
In a study published in Crop Science, researchers present a new approach to prioritizing areas for collecting seeds. Based on a list of 88 mainly cereal and legume priority taxa from the Spanish National Inventory of CWR, the authors used occurrence data from GBIF to derived most relevant bioclimatic, edaphic and geophysic variables for the taxa in question. Using the most important variables for each species, they generated land characterization maps to identify ecogeographic and spatial gaps, i.e. distance to location of available accessions.
When analyzing the maps, the authors find that Hordeum murinum (CWR of barley) and Vicia sativa (CWR of fava beans) had the largest number of spatial gaps. They generate a ranked list of 10x10 km cells based on gap richness and find 523 populations in the top 10 areas across 58 taxa, of which 24 are not present in current germplasm collections.