Submitted to: Symposum Crop Science Society Of America
Publication Type: Proceedings
Publication Acceptance Date: 3/1/1998
Publication Date: N/A
Citation: Geene, S.L. and T.S. Hart. 1999. Implementing a geographic analysis in germplasm conservation. In S.L. Greene and L.Guarino (ed). Linking genetic resources to geography: strategies for conserving crop biodiversity. pp. 25-38 CSSA Special Publication 27. Madison, WI. Interpretive Summary: Variation is an essential feature present in our natural world. The significance of the environment in influencing the genetic variation found within and among plant species is well recognized. For centuries, farmers and modern day plant breeders have used plants that grow well in adverse environments to develop crops that perform well in situations that have less then optimal conditions such as limited rain or bad soils. Today a new set of tools has emerged that describe the environment so we can better identify where plants are growing under adverse conditions. We can then go to these areas and collect these plants and use them to develop crops that produce well using less water and other precious resources. This tools include information obtained from satellites and weather stations that describe our landscape in detail, and special software called Geographic Information Systems (GIS) that allow us to examine the environment in remarkable detail. To effectively use these tools to find plants that grow well under adverse conditions, we need to understand how geography influences genetics. In this chapter we focus on 1) the genetic theory that describes how geography can influence plants, and 2)discuss how GIS tools can be used to help plant collectors find plants that due well in poor environments.
Technical Abstract: Diversity is an intrinsic component of biological systems. The significance of environmental variation in influencing intraspecific genetic diversity is well recognized and remains a "cardinal principle" in sampling crop germplasm diversity. The availability of large digital environmental data sets and Geographic Information System (GIS) software, provide genetic resource professionals with a tool for understanding patterns of genetic diversity. However, this must be underpinned by an understanding of the theoretical relationship between geography and the genetic divergence of plant populations. In this chapter we focus on traits contributing to that portion of population genetic structure that reflects adaptation to environmental selection pressures- those traits of interest to plant breeders developing cultivars that can sustain production in environments that are less then optimal. The objectives of this chapter are to 1) review the genetic theory on intraspecific geographic differentiation and 2) discuss how projects can be structured to reveal links between geography and intraspecific genentic diversity.