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ARS Home » Plains Area » Fort Collins, Colorado » Center for Agricultural Resources Research » Agricultural Genetic Resources Preservation Research » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #375402

Research Project: Efficient and Effective Preservation and Management of Plant and Microbial Genetic Resource Collections

Location: Agricultural Genetic Resources Preservation Research

Title: Crop wild relatives of the United States require urgent conservation action

Author
item Khoury, Colin
item CARVER, DAN - Colorad0 State University
item Greene, Stephanie
item Williams, Karen
item ACHICANOY, HAROLD - International Center For Tropical Agriculture (CIAT)
item Schori, Melanie
item LEON, BLANCA - University Of Texas At Austin
item WIERSEMA, JOHN - Smithsonian Institute
item FRANCES, ANNE - (NCE, CECR)networks Of Centres Of Exellence Of Canada, Centres Of Excellence For Commercilization A

Submitted to: Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences(PNAS)
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 11/11/2020
Publication Date: 12/14/2020
Publication URL: https://handle.nal.usda.gov/10113/7344741
Citation: Khoury, C.K., Carver, D., Greene, S.L., Williams, K.A., Achicanoy, H.A., Schori, M., Leon, B., Wiersema, J., Frances, A. 2020. Crop wild relatives of the United States require urgent conservation action. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences(PNAS). 117(52):33351-33357. https://doi.org/10.1073/pnas.2007029117.
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1073/pnas.2007029117

Interpretive Summary: This study provides conservation assessments for 600 U.S. native plants that are wild relatives of important agricultural crops. We found that over half of the species may be endangered in their natural habitats, and that the great majority require further conservation action, both ex situ (in genebanks and botanic gardens) and in situ (in protected areas). Diversity hotspots across the nation represent focal regions for further collecting for ex situ conservation as well as for enhanced habitat protection. Wider collaborations, as well as greater awareness, access to, and information about these resources are needed to bolster their conservation and use.

Technical Abstract: The contribution of crop wild relatives (CWR) to food security is dependent on their conservation and accessibility for use. The United States contains a diverse native flora of CWR, including of important cereal, fruit, nut, oil, pulse, root and tuber, and vegetable crops, which may be threatened in their natural habitats and under-represented in plant conservation repositories. To determine conservation priorities for these plants, we developed a national inventory, compiled occurrence information, modeled potential distributions, and conducted threat assessments and conservation gap analyses for 600 native taxa. We found that 7.1% of the taxa may be critically endangered in their natural habitats, 50% endangered, and 28% vulnerable. We categorized 58.8% of the taxa as of urgent priority for further action based on a combination of deficiencies in their ex situ (in genebanks and botanic gardens) and in situ (in protected areas) conservation, 37% high priority, and 4.2% medium priority. Major ex situ conservation gaps were identified for 93.3% of the wild relatives (categorized as urgent or high priority), with 83 taxa entirely absent from conservation repositories, while 93.1% of the plants were equivalently prioritized for further habitat protection. Taxonomic richness hotspots in the Northeast and Midwest, the Pacific Northwest and California, the Mountain West and Southwest, and the Gulf Coast region of the Southeast represent focal regions for further conservation action. Related needs include facilitating greater access to and characterization of these cultural-genetic-natural resources, and raising public awareness regarding their existence, value, and plight.