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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Research Project: Acquisition, Evaluation and Conversation of Temperate Forage Legume Genetic Resources

Location: Plant Germplasm Introduction and Testing

Title: Effective conservation of Medicago Crop Wild Relatives in Russia and neighbouring countries: a gap analysis points the way forward

Authors
item Greene, Stephanie
item Afonin, Alexandr -
item Dzyubenko, Elena -
item Dzyubenko, Nicolai -

Submitted to: Agrobiodiversity Conservation: Securing the diversity of Crop Wild Relatives and Landraces
Publication Type: Book / Chapter
Publication Acceptance Date: June 1, 2011
Publication Date: May 1, 2012
Citation: Greene, S.L., Afonin, A.A., Dzyubenko, E., Dzyubenko, N. 2012. Effective conservation of Medicago Crop Wild Relatives in Russia and neighbouring countries: a gap analysis points the way forward. Agrobiodiversity Conservation: Securing the diversity of Crop Wild Relatives and Landraces. p.82-90.

Interpretive Summary: The genus Medicago has over 60 species, and makes a significant contribution to the world’s food supply by providing nutritious forage for livestock. Alfalfa is the most important crop, although annual medics are important too. The area of the Former Soviet Union (FSU) is a center of diversity for alfalfa and its close wild relatives. Annual medics also grow in southern FSU. Genetic resources of these crops are important to conserve since they provide a reservoir for plant breeders looking for useful traits. Gap analysis is an effective way to review and refine conservation strategies. In this study we found that gaps exist in the major ex situ collections for both crop wild relatives of lucerne and the cultivated annual medic species. The gap analysis suggested ex situ collections had limited representation of perennial species in Crimea and eastern Siberia. The Caucasus region was well represented, but areas with little representation were identified, mainly areas with political unrest. In the Mountain Central Asia zone, representation was limited in Turkmenistan, an area where we can expect to find the eastern-most distribution of Medicago truncatula, an important model species for genomic research, and currently unrepresented in ex situ collections. Surprisingly, there was a serious gap in ex situ collections for rare and/or vulnerable species, despite the fact that they are close relatives of alfalfa. The gap analysis helped us to identify 7 geographic areas that together, support Medicago species and are ecologically diverse. We identified a set of nature reserves including six, that reported among them, the presence of the majority of our targeted Medicago species. This gap analysis has pointed out the next steps that need to be taken to ensure the ex situ and in situ conservation of important Medicago crop wild relatives in the area of the Former Soviet Union.

Technical Abstract: Gap analysis is an effective way to review and refine conservation strategies for crop wild relatives. We developed a comprehensive database containing over 2400 accessions of Medicago crop wild relatives that had been collected in the area of the Former Soviet Union (FSU). Using the data we developed species distribution maps and species richness maps and carried out a gap analysis. We found that gaps exist in current ex situ efforts to conserve the CWR of both lucerne and the cultivated annual medic species that occur in the FSU. The gap analysis suggested ex situ collections had limited representation of perennial species in Crimea and eastern Siberia. The Caucasus region was well represented, but areas with little representation were identified, mainly areas with political unrest. In the Mountain Central Asia zone, representation was limited in Turkmenistan, an area where we can expect to find the eastern-most distribution of Medicago truncatula, an important model species for genomic research, and currently unrepresented in ex situ collections. Surprisingly, there was a serious gap in ex situ collections for rare and/or vulnerable species, despite the fact that they are in the 2° and 3° gene pool of lucerne. The gap analysis helped us to identify 7 geographic areas that together, represent Medicago species and ecogeographic diversity of the study area. We identified a set of Protected Areas located in these areas, including six that reported among them, the presence of the majority of our targeted Medicago species. This gap analysis has pointed out the next steps that need to be taken to ensure the ex situ and in situ conservation of important Medicago CWR in the area of the Former Soviet Union.

Last Modified: 9/1/2014
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