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ARS Home » Pacific West Area » Pullman, Washington » Plant Germplasm Introduction and Testing Research » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #391887

Research Project: Management of Priority Legume, Oilseed, Vegetable, Forage Grass, Sugar, Ornamental, and Medicinal Plant Genetic Resources and Associated Information

Location: Plant Germplasm Introduction and Testing Research

Title: How could the use of crop wild relatives in breeding increase the adaptation of crops to marginal environments?

item RENZI, J - Instituto Nacional Tecnologia Agropecuaria
item Coyne, Clarice - Clare
item BERGER, JENS - Commonwealth Scientific And Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO)
item VON WETTBERG, E - University Of Vermont
item NELSON, MATTHEW - Commonwealth Scientific And Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO)
item URETA, S - Universidad Nacional Del Sur (UNS)
item HERNANDEZ, F - Universidad Nacional Del Sur (UNS)
item SMYKAL, PETR - Palacky University
item BRUS, JAN - Palacky University

Submitted to: Frontiers in Plant Science
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 5/11/2022
Publication Date: 6/16/2022
Citation: Renzi, J.P., Coyne, C.J., Berger, J., von Wettberg, E., Nelson, M., Ureta, S., Hernandez, F., Smykal, P., Brus, J. 2022. How could the use of crop wild relatives in breeding increase the adaptation of crops to marginal environments? Frontiers in Plant Science. 13. Article 886162. [Corrigendum: Frontiers in Plant Science: 2022, 13, Article 1101822.]

Interpretive Summary: Marginal agricultural lands exist worldwide, often in semi-arid or saline environments, and typically have poor soil fertility, shallow soil depth, and problems with erosion. Wild relatives (sister species) of our crop plants can be genetically very diverse and are valuable sources of genes that give plants resistance to diseases. However, they often also possess traits that plant breeders can use to increase the productivity (yield) of crops grown in marginal environments. In this article, we discuss the wild relatives of crops, including the genetic diversity and specific traits of interest that they possess, and propose opportunities and methods to use them efficiently in breeding to increase crop yields.

Technical Abstract: Modern breeding has been very successful in generating cultivars that have increased agricultural production several fold in favorable environments, together with the use of fertilizer and chemical control of weeds, pests, and diseases. These cultivars are designed under good field conditions and perform well when there is sufficient water and nutrients, e.g., fertile soil. However, such conditions are often not available and there is a large proportion of arable land in marginal environments. Marginal land exists worldwide, and typically, it is of poor soil fertility, suffering from erosion, with shallow soil and it is often found in semi-arid or saline environments. Moreover, these environments are expected to expand with ongoing climate change and increasing degradation of the quality of soil and water resources globally. Crop wild relatives (CWRs), which are most often used in breeding as sources of various resistances, often also possess traits adapting them to marginal environments. Wild progenitors have been selected over the course of their evolutionary history to maintain their fitness over the range of conditions, under the various stresses. The concept of broad adaptation has geographical and environmental significance, and reduces genetic diversity and increases genetic vulnerability. There is also a potential to exploit and utilize genetic heterogeneity as opposed to genetic uniformity as is the case in modern crop cultivation systems. Breeding for heterogenous environments is critical when the aim is to utilize marginal agricultural lands. This review discusses the adaptive traits that could improve the performance of cultivars in marginal environments and breeding strategies to deploy them.