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Research Project: Plant and Microbial Genetic Resource Preservation and Quality Assessment

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Title: Conservation priorities for tree crop wild relatives in the United States

Author
item Khoury, Colin
item Greene, Stephanie
item Williams, Karen
item SOSA, CHRYSTIAN - International Center For Tropical Agriculture (CIAT)
item Richards, Christopher

Submitted to: Symposium Proceedings
Publication Type: Proceedings
Publication Acceptance Date: 5/1/2016
Publication Date: 5/16/2016
Citation: Khoury, C.K., Greene, S.L., Williams, K.A., Sosa, C., Richards, C.M. 2016. Conservation priorities for tree crop wild relatives in the United States. Symposium Proceedings. Gene Conservation of Tree Species, Chicago, IL. May 16-19, 2016.

Interpretive Summary: Our native crop wild relatives have proved useful as genetic resources in breeding more productive, nutritious, and resilient crops. Their utilization is expected only to increase with better information on the species and improving breeding tools, but may well be constrained by their limited representation in genebanks and the ongoing loss of wild populations due to habitat modification, invasive species, pollution, over-collecting and climate change. We report on a series of related initiatives contributing to conservation of crop wild relatives in the United States. An inventory of wild relatives has documented taxa related to a broad range of food, forage and feed, medicinal, ornamental, and industrial crops. Valuable species are threatened in the wild, including relatives of walnut and plum, and few accessions of these taxa are currently conserved ex situ. Potential distribution models based on historical occurrence information are clarifying where the species diversity of wild relatives is concentrated, and a gap analysis methodology is facilitating efforts to identify those taxa and geographic areas of particular conservation concern. A novel collaboration between the Forest Service and Agricultural Research Service is making progress on studying, collecting for genebank conservation, and protecting in situ a number of crop wild relative species. We discuss the value of broadening partnerships between agencies and aligning with ongoing regional and international initiatives to conserve, research, and utilize crop wild relative diversity.

Technical Abstract: Our native crop wild relatives have proved useful as genetic resources in breeding more productive, nutritious, and resilient crops. Their utilization is expected only to increase with better information on the species and improving breeding tools, but may well be constrained by their limited representation in genebanks and the ongoing loss of wild populations due to habitat modification, invasive species, pollution, over-collecting and climate change. We report on a series of related initiatives contributing to conservation of crop wild relatives in the United States. An inventory of wild relatives has documented taxa related to a broad range of food, forage and feed, medicinal, ornamental, and industrial crops. Valuable species are threatened in the wild, including relatives of walnut and plum, and few accessions of these taxa are currently conserved ex situ. Potential distribution models based on historical occurrence information are clarifying where the species diversity of wild relatives is concentrated, and a gap analysis methodology is facilitating efforts to identify those taxa and geographic areas of particular conservation concern. A novel collaboration between the Forest Service and Agricultural Research Service is making progress on studying, collecting for genebank conservation, and protecting in situ a number of crop wild relative species. We discuss the value of broadening partnerships between agencies and aligning with ongoing regional and international initiatives to conserve, research, and utilize crop wild relative diversity.