Submitted to: North American Crop Wild Relatives
Publication Type: Book / Chapter
Publication Acceptance Date: 11/1/2018
Publication Date: 4/2/2019
Citation: Jenderek, M.M., Frelichowski, J.E. 2019. Fiber crops: cotton and hesperaloe. In: Greene, S.L., Williams, K.A., Khoury, C.K., Kantar, M.B., Marek, L.F., editors. North American Crop Wild Relatives. Volume 2: Important Species. New York, NY: Springer, Cham. p. 543-578.
Interpretive Summary: Chapter 27 of the book on 'Crop Wild Relatives of North America' describes the history of domestication, improvement, cultivation, biotic threats, conservation status and challenges facing cotton - the main source of natural fibers in North America; and hesperaole - a plant with outstanding fiber quality but considered as a potential 'new' fiber crop with its main application in paper industry. Hesperaloe does not encounter any known diseases or pests, has no yet developed cultivars, but it may grow on marginal land with minimal water supply and it can endure high air temperature. However, it takes five years to the first economical biomass harvest, hesperaloe plants might be useful in producing natural fibers in the future; hence, conservation of its wild populations in natural habitats and genebanks warrants support. Conservation of cotton wild populations has a designated site and curatorial team, and a fairly large group of scientists and technical support to research its genetics, collect samples from native habitats, evaluate and characterize its genetic resources to support the crop improvement. Wild populations of various cotton species were the base for developing of todays cultivars grown in the industry. Similarly, hesperaloe wild populations are the initial material for future crop development.
Technical Abstract: Fibers derived from wild cotton (Gossypium L.) and hesperaloe (Hesperaloe Engelm.) plants have a long history of use from prehistoric times to the present. Cotton is currently the most important source of natural fibers in North America, whereas hesperaloe is considered as a potential ‘new’ crop which value may increase with changing weather patterns. Cotton in particular, faces several pest and conservation challenges in its natural habitats. Cultivated and wild relatives of both plant genera are preserved in national germplasm collections; however, due to its economic importance, major conservation and evaluation efforts are focused on cotton. Conservation of cotton genetic resources is threatened by pest eradication programs that are a barrier to re-establishing wild Gossypium species in their natural habitats as well as to maintaining germplasm nurseries in genebanks; while hesperaloe native populations are subjected to uncontrolled animal foraging and human outdoor activities. Wild populations of Gossypium were the foundation to the development of todays cultivated crops. Conservation of genetic resources of both genera in in-situ and ex-situ environments is crucial for future crop development.