Strategy for conservation of crop wild relatives

Crop wild relatives are important sources of genetic material for crop improvement, but as they face the same threats as other wild plants, strategies for conservation are needed

Data resources used via GBIF : 86 species occurrences
Agrostis alpina

Agrostis alpina, one of the priority CWRs. This preserved specimen from the French National Herbarium licensed under CC BY 4.0.

Ensuring increasing crop yields is a priority as climates change and the world’s population continues to grow. This be achieved by using crop wild relatives (CWR) as the source of new material to the genetic base of current crop cultivars. But as CWRs face the same threats as other wild plants, targeted strategies for conservation are needed.

In this study, researchers used a checklist of CWRs in Czechia to identify priority species based on criteria related to vulnerability and relation to crops of high socioeconomic importance. The shortlist contained 204 species for which the researchers did in situ conservation analyses revealing that all but one species occurs in at least one protected area. One hundred and sixty species occur in five or more protected areas.

However, the study also identifed eight species occurring in only one PA in which they are endemic, making them particularly vulnerable. In addition, ex situ analyses found huge gaps, pointing to a need for targeted collection of germplasm for gene banks.

Taylor NG, Kell SP, Holubec V, Parra-Quijano M, Chobot K and Maxted N (2017) A systematic conservation strategy for crop wild relatives in the Czech Republic. Diversity and Distributions. Wiley-Blackwell 23(4): 448–462. Available at: