Crop wild relative conservation and use by Nigel Maxted; et al

By Nigel Maxted; et al

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In press) established 17 ‘best’ locations for the establishment of genetic reserves based on the 226 rarest and most threatened CWR species (Fig. 2). They found that these 17 protected areas contain 152 (67%) of the priority British CWR species. Genetic conservation gap analysis In prioritizing species for conservation and in formulating efficient conservation strategies, an assessment of current conservation action is a necessary consideration. It would waste limited resources to conserve a species that is already effectively conserved – we need to identify the gaps in current conservation actions.

Clarification of the importance to agriculture and the environment of wild plant species of socio-economic value among governments, institutions, decision makers and the general public cannot be overemphasized. A key element of the policies that result in adequately conserved and sustainably utilized CWR and world heritage site (WHS) diversity is the need for systematic analysis of the gaps in current conservation and utilization strategies, and where gaps are identified, implementation of remedial actions.

Increased nutritional value of the crops has been fulfilled through the introduction of genes for higher protein content in wheat and vitamin C content in tomato. Genes from wild Brassica oleracea plants have created domestic broccoli with high levels of anti-cancer compounds (Hodgkin and Hajjar, Chapter 38, this volume). Gene introductions have tended to be most effective when the wild species are close relatives of the crop, or are even direct ancestors to it. However, transfer of more distantly related species expands the value of CWR by increasing their usefulness into the secondary and tertiary crop gene pools (Meilleur and Hodgkin, 2004).

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