Location: National Germplasm Resources LaboratoryTitle: Resources and partnerships to conserve crop wild relatives in the United States
Submitted to: Meeting Abstract
Publication Type: Abstract Only
Publication Acceptance Date: 1/13/2023
Publication Date: N/A
Technical Abstract: Crop Wild Relatives (CWR) are wild plants closely related to cultivated crop species. The genetic material contained in CWR is important in developing new, improved varieties of crops. More than 600 plant species native to the United States are CWR of 37 different crops. Actions to support CWR conservation in the United States include a national inventory, a framework for complementary conservation, educational activities, and increased collection of germplasm. The Seeds of Success (SOS) program has contributed significantly to the ex situ conservation of CWR: At least 12% of SOS accessions are native CWR. While documenting and protecting CWR have advanced significantly in recent years, over half of the U.S. native CWR are still insufficiently protected, and CWR are often overlooked when conservation priorities are being developed. The USDA Agricultural Research Service (ARS) supports the conservation of CWR native to the United States through a variety of activities throughout the country. Here we present several different USDA-ARS resources that can aid in implementing the National Seed Strategy and other initiatives. These resources also provide tools to integrate CWR conservation into existing conservation and restoration efforts. We highlight partnerships integral to effective complementary conservation (linking in situ and ex situ efforts), including a new initiative to conserve native grapes (Vitis spp.) and an ongoing partnership with the U.S. Forest Service to protect wild cranberries (Vaccinium spp.). We feature a new online tool to map U.S. CWR, review funding opportunities for CWR plant exploration, and welcome opportunities to develop new partnerships.