Conserving crop wild relatives to help feed the world

Identifying and prioritizing the genetic resources of crop wild relatives in Norway

GBIF-mediated data resources used : 382,605 species occurrences
Cloudberry (Rubus chamaemorus)

Cloudberry or "molte" in Norwegian (Rubus chamaemorus) by Torsten Eriksson via iNaturalist. Photo licensed under CC BY-NC 4.0.

A growing global population means higher demands for food productivity. Increased homogeneity and decreased genetic diversity in crops, however, may lead to maladaptation to changing environments. Crop wild relatives (CWR) can be used as a genetic resource to make crops better suited for the future environments. In this study, researchers created a checklist of CWR in Norway and used GBIF-mediated occurrences to model the potential distributions of the included species and identify conservation priorities. The resulting list contained 204 priority CWR taxa, including vegetables, berries and herbs, many of which were concentrated around the capital city of Oslo. The authors recommend creating a network of in situ genetic reserves throughout Norway to help capture the genetic diversity of priority CWR, and the collection of 177 taxa without ex situ accessions to be stored the Svalbard Global Seed Vault. They finally recommend reviewing and updating the CWR priority list every five years.

Phillips J, Asdal Å, Magos Brehm J, Rasmussen M and Maxted N (2016) In situ and ex situ diversity analysis of priority crop wild relatives in Norway. Diversity and Distributions. Wiley-Blackwell 22(11): 1112–1126. Available at doi:10.1111/ddi.12470.