Enriching cultivated plant's genetic diversity with wild relatives

According to the [Convention on Biological Diversity] (CBD), 'domesticated or cultivated species' means species in which the evolutionary process has been influenced by humans to meet their needs.

Only three species of plants -- corn, rice and wheat -- supply over half of all human energy needs. However, the production of these essential crops cannot keep up with current rates of population growth, as availability of suitable land for their production is declining, and research and other methods into increasing their yields are achieving less incremental gains per unit of research and inputs. The latter problem may be addressed in part, by exploiting the thousands of possible wild relatives in the natural world and any additional kinds of plants, that could possibly provide essential genes which could significantly enrich the properties of existing cultivated plants. As genetic engineering advances the technology of gene transfer from one organism to another, the dependency upon biodiversity will likely increase, and hence provides yet another reason to protect biological diversity.

In a small area of Mexican mountains, a wild perennial relative of corn was discovered and exploited to enrich the gene pool of corn.
1. Speeding the use of genetic resources for sustainable agricultural development can be best accomplished by combining the efforts of conservation biologists, social scientists, agronomists, ethnobotanists, and ecologists in an interactive mode. Such teams represent mutual interests for both preservation and use of resource diversity for international development. Projects using this approach seek to integrate conservation and utilization of genetic resources and increase economic benefits derived from the maintenance of biodiversity.

2. Using the library of genes available in the wild relatives of crop plants could make crop genetic engineering unnecessary.

Constrained by:
Limiting food variety
Type Classification:
D: Detailed strategies