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Some recent issues on the conservation of crop genetic resources in developing countries



Some recent issues on the conservation of crop genetic resources in developing countries



Genome 42(4): 562-569



Crop genetic resources (CGRs) are renewable resources. These resources are enriched rather than depleted by their use in research and plant breeding. Both at the time of Vavilov and, later, in the early 1970s, when concerted international efforts to collect and preserve CGRs started with the initiatives of the International Board for Plant Genetic Resources (IBPGR), CGRs were considered to be the common heritage of humankind. Now, they are widely accepted as "national heritage." Possible impacts of this nationalization on the utilization and enrichment of global crop genetic diversity and, consequently, on global food security are issues of great significance. At present, efficient management and adequate use of CGRs are more important concerns than their further exploration and collection. To increase the use of preserved CGRs in plant breeding, the formation of core collections, by selecting representative subsets from large ex situ collections of CGRs, was recommended in 1984. Since then, the core-collection strategy has been further justified as a practical approach to genetic resources management, as well as to their conservation. As a cost-saving germplasm-management strategy, the core-collection concept has considerable merit. However, the rapidly increasing popularity of core collections may undermine the genetic wealth stored in national gene banks of both developed and developing countries. Distinction is made between subsets of working collections and core collections. When a small number of CGRs is required for specific plant breeding purposes, a properly formed working collection is more useful than a representative collection. Despite the relative abundance of genetic diversity in crop plants in traditional agroecosystems, maintenance of these agroecosystems is not a realistic long-term alternative for preserving crop genetic diversity and ensuring global food security. What is needed in the "gene-rich" developing countries is the adoption of "biodiversity friendly" plant breeding and agricultural practices.

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Accession: 003276597

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DOI: 10.1139/g99-051


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