Special Issue "Plant Biodiversity and Genetic Resources"

A special issue of Plants (ISSN 2223-7747). This special issue belongs to the section "Plant Genetics and Genomics".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (31 July 2020).

Special Issue Editors

Dr. Andreas W. Ebert
Website SciProfiles
Guest Editor
Genebank Manager (retired), Genetic Resources and Seed Unit, World Vegetable Center, 74199 Tainan, Taiwan
Interests: plant genetic resources; agrobiodiversity; genebank and germplasm management; ex situ conservation; climate change; sustainability; neglected and underutilized species; indigenous vegetables; sprouts, microgreens, and edible flowers; tropical fruit
Dr. Johannes M. M. Engels
Website SciProfiles
Guest Editor
Honorary Research Fellow, Bioversity International, 00053 Rome/Maccarese, Italy
Interests: plant genetic resources; genebank and germplasm management; neglected and underutilized species; networking; global conservation and use system; capacity building; cacao genetic resources; linking conservation and development

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

The foundation of the world food supply is based on thousands of years of crop selection, and improvement carried out on wild and semi-domesticated species, crop wild relatives and landraces, giving rise to present-day cultivated crop varieties. The ‘wild’ genes of crop wild relatives and landraces strongly influence agronomic characteristics such as phenology, growing seasons, sensitivity to inputs (i.e., fertilizer and water), resistance to diseases and insect pests and tolerance to heat, drought, and salinity. The availability of such genetic diversity is critical for plant breeding, especially with climate change. Moreover, the genetic diversity within and between species gives rise to a multitude of characteristics that enable plants, animals, and microbes to fulfill different roles in the environment and to adapt to changing conditions, as this diversity will ensure the continued functioning of ecosystems and the provisioning of ecosystem services.

Current over-reliance on a handful of major staple crops has inherent agronomic, ecological, nutritional, and economic risks and is unsustainable in the long run. The wider use of underutilized minor crops provides more options to build temporal and spatial heterogeneity into uniform cropping systems helping to maintain and enhance efficiency and resilience of agroecosystems and to enhance dietary diversity and combat malnutrition.

Production systems and the underlying genetic resources including crop wild relatives that are found in cultivated and protected land, and especially in natural ecosystems such as forests (ranging from tropical to temperate), are severely threatened due to drastic land-use changes, over-exploitation of resources, and man-made and natural disasters. Climate change is already affecting the distribution of plants and associated species, their population sizes, and life cycles. Efficient adaptation strategies for a changing climate require, among other measures, the effective and rational conservation and sustainable utilization of the remaining (in particular agricultural) biodiversity, both in situ as well as in genebanks and access to genetic resources of crops and their wild relatives by plant breeders.

To develop and grow ‘climate-smart’ crop varieties for sustainable production systems, farmers and plant breeders worldwide are in dire need of access to a wide range of traits and genes, often found in plant genetic resources located far away from major production areas. This raises a multitude of policy issues and concerns regarding access and benefit-sharing, ownership, intellectual property rights, and patents imposed on PGRFA and breeding lines, as well as implications of transgenic crops for biodiversity and sustainable agriculture.

Therefore, in this Special Issue on plant biodiversity and genetic resources, we invite articles (original research papers, reviews, perspectives, opinions, and modeling approaches) that address the above-mentioned issues and are guided by the keywords provided for this topic.

Dr. Andreas W. Ebert
Dr. Johannes M. M. Engels
Guest Editors

Manuscript Submission Information

Manuscripts should be submitted online at www.mdpi.com by registering and logging in to this website. Once you are registered, click here to go to the submission form. Manuscripts can be submitted until the deadline. All papers will be peer-reviewed. Accepted papers will be published continuously in the journal (as soon as accepted) and will be listed together on the special issue website. Research articles, review articles as well as short communications are invited. For planned papers, a title and short abstract (about 100 words) can be sent to the Editorial Office for announcement on this website.

Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a single-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. Plants is an international peer-reviewed open access monthly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 1600 CHF (Swiss Francs). Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.

Acknowledgement

The editorial office staff of Plants are grateful to the guest editors Dr. Andreas W. Ebert and Dr. Johannes M. M. Engels for dedicating their considerable time and expertise to the special issue.

We also acknowledge the Alliance of Bioversity International and the International Center for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT) for their support and contribution as well as the CGIAR Genebank Platform (www.genebanks.org).

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Keywords

  • Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture (PGRFA)
  • Origin and distribution of crop genetic resources
  • Interdependence on PGRFA
  • Plant biodiversity and PGRFA hotspots
  • Valuing plant biodiversity/Agrobiodiversity
  • PGRFA and climate change
  • PGRFA and sustainable production systems
  • PGRFA and food security
  • Crop wild relatives
  • Wild food plants
  • Neglected and underutilized species
  • PGRFA and nutrition
  • Indigenous knowledge
  • Genetic erosion
  • In situ and ex situ conservation
  • Rationalization of ex situ conservation
  • Conservation, sustainable use, and networking
  • Conservation, sustainable use, and capacity building
  • Farmer-participatory conservation and use (cultivation and crop improvement) of PGRFA
  • Regional and global approaches to conservation and sustainable use of PGRFA
  • PGRFA and breeding
  • Access and benefit-sharing
  • Ownership / IPR of PGRFA and breeding lines
  • Enhancing PGRFA with molecular tools
  • DNA-banking for plant breeding
  • Transgenic crops – implications for biodiversity and sustainable agriculture

Published Papers (27 papers)

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Open AccessArticle
Challenges for Ex Situ Conservation of Wild Bananas: Seeds Collected in Papua New Guinea Have Variable Levels of Desiccation Tolerance
Plants 2020, 9(9), 1243; https://doi.org/10.3390/plants9091243 - 21 Sep 2020
Abstract
Ex situ seed conservation of banana crop wild relatives (Musa spp. L.), is constrained by critical knowledge gaps in their storage and germination behaviour. Additionally, challenges in collecting seeds from wild populations impact the quality of seed collections. It is, therefore, crucial [...] Read more.
Ex situ seed conservation of banana crop wild relatives (Musa spp. L.), is constrained by critical knowledge gaps in their storage and germination behaviour. Additionally, challenges in collecting seeds from wild populations impact the quality of seed collections. It is, therefore, crucial to evaluate the viability of seeds from such collecting missions in order to improve the value of future seed collections. We evaluate the seed viability of 37 accessions of seven Musa species, collected from wild populations in Papua New Guinea, during two collecting missions. Seeds from one mission had already been stored in conventional storage (dried for four months at 15% relative humidity, 20 °C and stored for two months at 15% relative humdity, −20 °C), so a post-storage test was carried out. Seeds from the second mission were assessed freshly extracted and following desiccation. We used embryo rescue techniques to overcome the barrier of germinating in vivo Musa seeds. Seeds from the first mission had low viability (19 ± 27% mean and standard deviation) after storage for two months at 15% relative humidity and −20 °C. Musa balbisiana Colla seeds had significantly higher post-storage germination than other species (p < 0.01). Desiccation reduced germination of the seeds from the second collecting mission, from 84 ± 22% (at 16.7 ± 2.4% moisture content) to 36 ± 30% (at 2.4 ± 0.8% moisture content). There was considerable variation between and (to a lesser extent) within accessions, a proportion of individual seeds of all but one species (Musa ingens N.W.Simmonds) survived desiccation and sub-zero temperature storage. We identified that seeds from the basal end of the infructescence were less likely to be viable after storage (p < 0.001); and made morphological observations that identify seeds and infructescences with higher viability in relation to their developmental maturity. We highlight the need for research into seed eco-physiology of crop wild relatives in order to improve future collecting missions. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Plant Biodiversity and Genetic Resources)
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Open AccessArticle
Genetic Diversity, Nitrogen Fixation, and Water Use Efficiency in a Panel of Honduran Common Bean (Phaseolus vulgaris L.) Landraces and Modern Genotypes
Plants 2020, 9(9), 1238; https://doi.org/10.3390/plants9091238 - 19 Sep 2020
Abstract
Common bean (Phaseolus vulgaris L.) provides critical nutrition and a livelihood for millions of smallholder farmers worldwide. Beans engage in symbiotic nitrogen fixation (SNF) with Rhizobia. Honduran hillside farmers farm marginal land and utilize few production inputs; therefore, bean varieties with high [...] Read more.
Common bean (Phaseolus vulgaris L.) provides critical nutrition and a livelihood for millions of smallholder farmers worldwide. Beans engage in symbiotic nitrogen fixation (SNF) with Rhizobia. Honduran hillside farmers farm marginal land and utilize few production inputs; therefore, bean varieties with high SNF capacity and environmental resiliency would be of benefit to them. We explored the diversity for SNF, agronomic traits, and water use efficiency (WUE) among 70 Honduran landrace, participatory bred (PPB), and conventionally bred bean varieties (HON panel) and 6 North American check varieties in 3 low-N field trials in Ontario, Canada and Honduras. Genetic diversity was measured with a 6K single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) array, and phenotyping for agronomic, SNF, and WUE traits was carried out. STRUCTURE analysis revealed two subpopulations with admixture between the subpopulations. Nucleotide diversity was greater in the landraces than the PPB varieties across the genome, and multiple genomic regions were identified where population genetic differentiation between the landraces and PPB varieties was evident. Significant differences were found between varieties and breeding categories for agronomic traits, SNF, and WUE. Landraces had above average SNF capacity, conventional varieties showed higher yields, and PPB varieties performed well for WUE. Varieties with the best SNF capacity could be used in further participatory breeding efforts. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Plant Biodiversity and Genetic Resources)
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Open AccessArticle
The Role of Genetic Resources in Breeding for Climate Change: The Case of Public Breeding Programmes in Eighteen Developing Countries
Plants 2020, 9(9), 1129; https://doi.org/10.3390/plants9091129 - 31 Aug 2020
Abstract
The role of plant breeding in adapting crops to climate changes that affect food production in developing countries is recognized as extremely important and urgent, alongside other agronomic, socio-economic and policy adaptation pathways. To enhance plant breeders’ capacity to respond to climate challenges, [...] Read more.
The role of plant breeding in adapting crops to climate changes that affect food production in developing countries is recognized as extremely important and urgent, alongside other agronomic, socio-economic and policy adaptation pathways. To enhance plant breeders’ capacity to respond to climate challenges, it is acknowledged that they need to be able to access and use as much genetic diversity as they can get. Through an analysis of data from a global survey, we explore if and how public breeders in selected developing countries are responding to climate challenges through a renewed or innovative use of plant genetic resources, particularly in terms of types of material incorporated into their breeding work as well as sources of such germplasm. It also looks at the possible limitations breeders encounter in their efforts towards exploring diversity for adaptation. Breeders are clearly considering climate challenges. In general, their efforts are aimed at intensifying their breeding work on traits that they were already working on before climate change was so widely discussed. Similarly, the kinds of germplasm they use, and the sources from which they obtain it, do not appear to have changed significantly over the course of recent years. The main challenges breeders faced in accessing germplasm were linked to administrative/legal factors, particularly related to obtaining genetic resources across national borders. They also underscore technical challenges such as a lack of appropriate technologies to exploit germplasm sets such as crop wild relatives and landraces. Addressing these limitations will be crucial to fully enhance the role of public sector breeders in helping to adapt vulnerable agricultural systems to the challenges of climate change. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Plant Biodiversity and Genetic Resources)
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Open AccessArticle
Assessment of the Nutritional and Medicinal Potential of Tubers from Hairy Stork’s-Bill (Erodium crassifolium L ’Hér), a Wild Plant Species Inhabiting Arid Southeast Mediterranean Regions
Plants 2020, 9(9), 1069; https://doi.org/10.3390/plants9091069 - 20 Aug 2020
Abstract
Emerging needs for diversifying human diet and to explore novel therapeutic procedures have led to increasing attempts to retrieve traditional nourishments and recruit beneficial wild plant species. Species of the genus Erodium (Geraniaceae) harbor medicinal indications and substances known from folklore and scientific [...] Read more.
Emerging needs for diversifying human diet and to explore novel therapeutic procedures have led to increasing attempts to retrieve traditional nourishments and recruit beneficial wild plant species. Species of the genus Erodium (Geraniaceae) harbor medicinal indications and substances known from folklore and scientific research. Hairy stork’s bill (Erodium crassifolium L’Hér), is a small hemicryptophyte that inhabits arid southeast Mediterranean regions. E. crassifolium is among the very few Geraniaceae species known to produce tubers. Traditional knowledge holds that the tubers are edible and used by Bedouin tribes. However, no scientific information was found regarding nutrition or medicinal properties of these tubers. The objectives of our project are to unravel potential nutritional and medicinal benefits of the tubers, conduct initial steps towards domestication and develop agricultural practices enhancing E. crassifolium tuber yield and quality. Tubers show high water content (90%), low caloric value (23 Kcal 100−1 g) and considerable contents of minerals and vitamins. In addition, the tubers contain significant amounts of catechins and epigallocatechin, polyphenolic compounds known for their antioxidative, anti-inflammatory and antiproliferative activities. Furthermore, in vitro experiments demonstrated significant anti-inflammatory effects on human cell cultures. E. crassifolium is highly responsive to environmental changes; fertigation (700 mm) increased tuber yield by 10-fold, compared to simulated wild conditions (50–200 mm). These results indicate a significant potential of E. crassifolium becoming a valuable crop species. Therefore, there is a need for continued efforts in domestication, including ecotype selection, breeding, development of suitable agricultural practices and further exploration of its medicinal benefits. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Plant Biodiversity and Genetic Resources)
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Open AccessArticle
Genome-Wide Association Mapping for Stripe Rust Resistance in Pakistani Spring Wheat Genotypes
Plants 2020, 9(9), 1056; https://doi.org/10.3390/plants9091056 - 19 Aug 2020
Abstract
Stripe rust caused by the pathogen Puccinia striiformis f. sp. tritici (Pst) is a major threat for wheat, resulting in low yield and grain quality loss in many countries. Genetic resistance is a prevalent method to combat the disease. Mapping the [...] Read more.
Stripe rust caused by the pathogen Puccinia striiformis f. sp. tritici (Pst) is a major threat for wheat, resulting in low yield and grain quality loss in many countries. Genetic resistance is a prevalent method to combat the disease. Mapping the resistant loci and their association with traits is highly exploited in this era. A panel of 465 Pakistani spring wheat genotypes were evaluated for their phenotypic response to stripe rust at the seedling and adult plant stages. A total of 765 single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) markers were applied on 465 wheat genotypes to evaluate their stripe rust response against nine races during the seedling test and in three locations for the field test. Currently, twenty SNPs dispersed on twelve chromosomal regions (1A, 1B, 1D, 2A, 2B, 4A, 4B, 5B, 6A, 6B, 6D and 7B) have been identified that were associated with rust race-specific resistance at the seedling stage. Thirty SNPs dispersed on eighteen chromosomal regions (1A, 1B, 1D, 2A, 2B, 2D, 3A, 3B, 3D, 4B, 5A, 5B, 6A, 6B, 6D, 7A, 7B and 7D) are associated with adult plant resistance. SNP loci IWB3662 was linked with all three Pakistani races, and likewise IWA2344 and IWA4096 were found to be linked with three different USA races. The present research findings can be applied by wheat breeders to increase their resistant capability and yield potential of their cultivars, through marker-assisted selection. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Plant Biodiversity and Genetic Resources)
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Open AccessArticle
Genetic Distinctiveness Highlights the Conservation Value of a Sicilian Manna Ash Germplasm Collection Assigned to Fraxinus angustifolia (Oleaceae)
Plants 2020, 9(8), 1035; https://doi.org/10.3390/plants9081035 - 14 Aug 2020
Abstract
The cosmopolitan genus Fraxinus comprises about 40 species occupying several habitats in the Northern Hemisphere. With some species hybridizing and sharing genetic variants, questions remain on the species assignment of germplasm within the genus Fraxinus despite numerous species-specific assessments. A multidisciplinary approach was [...] Read more.
The cosmopolitan genus Fraxinus comprises about 40 species occupying several habitats in the Northern Hemisphere. With some species hybridizing and sharing genetic variants, questions remain on the species assignment of germplasm within the genus Fraxinus despite numerous species-specific assessments. A multidisciplinary approach was employed to provide a definitive insight into the genetics of an endangered Fraxinus “manna ash” collection, located in a rich plant biodiversity hotspot of the Madonie Mountains (Sicily). Although the collection size was small, genetic diversity, assessed by chloroplast (cpSSR) and nuclear (nSSR) microsatellites (SSR—Simple Sequence Repeats), allowed identifying three different chloroplast haplotypes, with one (H5) dominant, and several polymorphic loci, able to discriminate most of the local accessions studied. Molecular data were linked to cytofluorimetric and phenotypic evaluations and, contrary to popular belief that manna ash is Fraxinus ornus L., the germplasm currently used for manna production belongs to Fraxinus angustifolia Vahl. Interestingly, joint analysis of our genetic panel with a large European dataset of Fraxinus spp. suggested the presence of a possible glacial refuge in Sicily, confirming its importance as biodiversity source. Our results will be helpful for the design of long-term conservation programs for genetic resources, such as in situ and ex situ conservation, seed collection and tree reintroduction. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Plant Biodiversity and Genetic Resources)
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Open AccessArticle
The Cypriot Indigenous Grapevine Germplasm Is a Multi-Clonal Varietal Mixture
Plants 2020, 9(8), 1034; https://doi.org/10.3390/plants9081034 - 14 Aug 2020
Abstract
Cypriot vineyards are considered as one among the earliest niches of viticulture and a pivotal hub for the domestication and dissemination of grapevine. The millennial presence of Vitis spp. in this Eastern Mediterranean island has given rise to a plethora of biotypes that [...] Read more.
Cypriot vineyards are considered as one among the earliest niches of viticulture and a pivotal hub for the domestication and dissemination of grapevine. The millennial presence of Vitis spp. in this Eastern Mediterranean island has given rise to a plethora of biotypes that have not been adequately characterized, despite their unique attributes and stress tolerance. This ancient germplasm also has an additional value since it survived the phylloxera outbreak; hence, it possesses a large amount of genetic diversity that has been unnoticed. In order to provide useful insights to the lineage of Cypriot vineyards, a two-year-spanning collection of centennial grapevine cultivars mostly regarded to belong to four indigenous variety clusters (“Mavro”, “Xynisteri”, “Maratheftiko”, and “Veriko”) was initiated. There were 164 accessions across the broader Commandaria wine zone sampled and characterized using a universal microsatellite primer set. Genetic analysis indicated that considered indigenous Cypriot germplasm has a polyclonal structure with a high level of heterozygosity. Moreover, several lineages or unexplored varieties may exist, since a larger than considered number of discrete genotypes was discovered. Furthermore, it was established that grapevine lineages in Cyprus were shaped across eras via clonal, as well as, sexual propagation. The special attributes of the Cypriot landscape are discussed. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Plant Biodiversity and Genetic Resources)
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Open AccessArticle
Conservation of Wild Food Plants and Their Potential for Combatting Food Insecurity in Kenya as Exemplified by the Drylands of Kitui County
Plants 2020, 9(8), 1017; https://doi.org/10.3390/plants9081017 - 12 Aug 2020
Abstract
Wild food plants are important resources for people living in dry areas of Kenya. A botanical inventory of vascular plants of Kitui county was compiled from specimens collected during field investigations in Kitui county, at the East African (EA) herbarium and from literature [...] Read more.
Wild food plants are important resources for people living in dry areas of Kenya. A botanical inventory of vascular plants of Kitui county was compiled from specimens collected during field investigations in Kitui county, at the East African (EA) herbarium and from literature reporting on plants of Kitui county. To obtain an inventory of wild edible plants found in Kitui county, literature reporting on wild edible plants of Kenya were searched and combined with the use reports obtained from field surveys in Kitui county. A total of 199 wild plants found in Kitui county have the potential of being utilized as foods in different ways. Plant species growing either as trees or shrubs (83 species) and herbs (36 species) are the dominant life forms while the best represented plant families are Leguminosae (25 species) and Malvaceae (17 species). Fruits (124 reports) and leaves (56 reports) are the common plant parts collected for food. Fruits (120 species) and vegetables (44 species) are the common wild food types in Kitui county. Further studies on species distribution are necessary to address conservation concerns that may threaten such plants. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Plant Biodiversity and Genetic Resources)
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Open AccessArticle
Macro- and Micronutrients from Traditional Food Plants Could Improve Nutrition and Reduce Non-Communicable Diseases of Islanders on Atolls in the South Pacific
Plants 2020, 9(8), 942; https://doi.org/10.3390/plants9080942 - 24 Jul 2020
Abstract
Pacific Islanders have paid dearly for abandoning traditional diets, with diabetes and other non-communicable diseases (NCD) widespread. Starchy root crops like sweet potato, taro, and cassava are difficult to grow on the potassium-deficient soils of atolls, and high energy, low nutrient imported foods [...] Read more.
Pacific Islanders have paid dearly for abandoning traditional diets, with diabetes and other non-communicable diseases (NCD) widespread. Starchy root crops like sweet potato, taro, and cassava are difficult to grow on the potassium-deficient soils of atolls, and high energy, low nutrient imported foods and drinks are popular. Nutritious, leafy food plants adapted to alkaline, salty, coral soils could form part of a food system strategy to reduce NCD rates. This project targeted four atolls south of Tarawa, Kiribati, and was later extended to Tuvalu. Mineral levels in diverse, local leafy food plants were compared to reveal genotype–environment interactions. Food plants varied in ability to accumulate minerals in leaves and in tolerance of mineral-deficient soils. Awareness activities which included agriculture, health, and education officers targeted atoll communities. Agriculture staff grew planting material in nurseries and provided it to farmers. Rejuvenation of abandoned giant swamp taro pits to form diversified nutritious food gardens was encouraged. Factsheets promoted the most suitable species from 24 analyzed, with multiple samples of each. These included Cnidoscolus aconitifolius (chaya), Pseuderanthemum whartonianum (ofenga), Polyscias scutellaria (hedge panax), and Portulaca oleracea (purslane). The promoted plants have been shown in other studies to have anti-NCD effects. Inclusion of the findings in school curricula and practical application in the form of demonstration school food gardens, as well as increased uptake by farmers, are needed. Further research is needed on bioavailability of minerals in plants containing phytates and tannins. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Plant Biodiversity and Genetic Resources)
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Open AccessArticle
SNP Markers and Evaluation of Duplicate Holdings of Brassica oleracea in Two European Genebanks
Plants 2020, 9(8), 925; https://doi.org/10.3390/plants9080925 - 22 Jul 2020
Abstract
Around the world, there are more than 1500 genebanks storing plant genetic resources to be used in breeding and research. Such resources are essential for future food security, but many genebanks experience backlogs in their conservation work, often combined with limited budgets. Therefore, [...] Read more.
Around the world, there are more than 1500 genebanks storing plant genetic resources to be used in breeding and research. Such resources are essential for future food security, but many genebanks experience backlogs in their conservation work, often combined with limited budgets. Therefore, avoiding duplicate holdings is on the agenda. A process of coordination has started, aiming at sharing the responsibility of maintaining the unique accessions while allowing access according to the international treaty for plant genetic resources. Identifying duplicate holdings based on passport data has been one component of this. In the past, and especially in vegetables, different selections within the same varieties were common and the naming practices of cultivars/selections were flexible. Here, we examined 10 accession pairs/groups of cabbage (Brassica oleracea var. capitata) with similar names maintained in the Russian and Nordic genebanks. The accessions were analyzed for 11 morphological traits and with a SNP (Single Nucleotide Polymorphism) array developed for B. napus. Both proved to be useful tools for understanding the genetic structure among the accessions and for identifying duplicates, and a subset of 500 SNP markers are suggested for future Brassica oleracea genetic characterization. Within five out of 10 pairs/groups, we detected clear genetic differences among the accessions, and three of these were confirmed by significant differences in one or several morphological traits. In one case, a white cabbage and a red cabbage had similar accession names. The study highlights the necessity to be careful when identifying duplicate accessions based solely on the name, especially in older cross-pollinated species such as cabbage. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Plant Biodiversity and Genetic Resources)
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Open AccessArticle
Evaluation of Wild Potato Germplasm for Tuber Starch Content and Nitrogen Utilization Efficiency
Plants 2020, 9(7), 833; https://doi.org/10.3390/plants9070833 - 02 Jul 2020
Abstract
Potato wild relatives provide a considerable source of variation for important traits in cultivated potato (Solanum tuberosum L.) breeding. This study evaluates the variation of tuber starch content and nitrogen utilization efficiency (NutE) in wild potato germplasm. For the experiments regarding starch [...] Read more.
Potato wild relatives provide a considerable source of variation for important traits in cultivated potato (Solanum tuberosum L.) breeding. This study evaluates the variation of tuber starch content and nitrogen utilization efficiency (NutE) in wild potato germplasm. For the experiments regarding starch content, 28 accessions of ten different tuber-bearing wild Solanum-species were chosen, and in vitro plantlets were raised from seeds. Twenty plantlets (= genotypes) per accession were then cultivated in the greenhouse until natural senescence and tuber starch content was determined. The average tuber starch content across all genotypes tested was 21.7% of fresh mass. Contents above 28% of fresh mass were found in 50 genotypes, belonging to the species S. chacoense, S. commersonii, S. jamesii, and S. pinnatisectum. Subsequently, 22 wild genotypes revealing high tuber starch contents and four modern varieties of cultivated potato were studied as in vitro plantlets under optimal and low N supply (30 and 7.5 mmol L−1 N). Low N supply lead to a genotype-dependent reduction of shoot dry mass between 13 and 46%. The majority of the wild types also reduced root dry mass by 26 to 62%, while others maintained root growth and even exceeded the NutE of the varieties under low N supply. Thus, wild potato germplasm appears superior to cultivars in terms of tuber starch contents and N utilization efficiency, which should be investigated in further studies. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Plant Biodiversity and Genetic Resources)
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Open AccessArticle
Genetic Structure of Wild Germplasm of Macadamia: Species Assignment, Diversity and Phylogeographic Relationships
Plants 2020, 9(6), 714; https://doi.org/10.3390/plants9060714 - 03 Jun 2020
Abstract
Macadamia is an Australian native rainforest tree that has been domesticated and traded internationally for its premium nuts. Common cultivars rely upon a limited gene pool that has exploited only two of the four species. Introducing a more diverse germplasm will broaden the [...] Read more.
Macadamia is an Australian native rainforest tree that has been domesticated and traded internationally for its premium nuts. Common cultivars rely upon a limited gene pool that has exploited only two of the four species. Introducing a more diverse germplasm will broaden the genetic base for future crop improvement and better adaptation for changing environments. This study investigated the genetic structure of 302 accessions of wild germplasm using 2872 SNP and 8415 silicoDArT markers. Structure analysis and principal coordinate analysis (PCoA) assigned the 302 accessions into four distinct groups: (i) Macadamia integrifolia, (ii) M. tetraphylla, and (iii) M. jansenii and M. ternifolia, and (iv) admixtures or hybrids. Assignment of the four species matched well with previous characterisations, except for one M. integrifolia and four M. tetraphylla accessions. Using SNP markers, 94 previously unidentified accessions were assigned into the four distinct groups. Finally, 287 accessions were identified as pure examples of one of the four species and 15 as hybrids of M. integrifolia and M. tetraphylla. The admixed accessions showed the highest genetic diversity followed by M. integrifolia, while M. ternifolia and M. jansenii accessions were the least diverse. Mantel test analysis showed a significant correlation between genetic and geographic distance for M. integrifolia (r = 0.51, p = 0.05) and a positive but not significant correlation for M. tetraphylla (r = 0.45, p = 0.06). This study provides a population genetics overview of macadamia germplasm as a background for a conservation strategy and provides directions for future macadamia breeding. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Plant Biodiversity and Genetic Resources)
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Open AccessArticle
Genetic Diversity, Population Structure and Marker-Trait Association for 100-Seed Weight in International Safflower Panel Using SilicoDArT Marker Information
Plants 2020, 9(5), 652; https://doi.org/10.3390/plants9050652 - 21 May 2020
Cited by 1
Abstract
Safflower is an important oilseed crop mainly grown in the arid and semi-arid regions of the world. The aim of this study was to explore phenotypic and genetic diversity, population structure, and marker-trait association for 100-seed weight in 94 safflower accessions originating from [...] Read more.
Safflower is an important oilseed crop mainly grown in the arid and semi-arid regions of the world. The aim of this study was to explore phenotypic and genetic diversity, population structure, and marker-trait association for 100-seed weight in 94 safflower accessions originating from 26 countries using silicoDArT markers. Analysis of variance revealed statistically significant genotypic effects (p < 0.01), while Turkey samples resulted in higher 100-seed weight compared to Pakistan samples. A Constellation plot divided the studied germplasm into two populations on the basis of their 100-seed weight. Various mean genetic diversity parameters including observed number of alleles (1.99), effective number of alleles (1.54), Shannon’s information index (0.48), expected heterozygosity (0.32), and unbiased expected heterozygosity (0.32) for the entire population exhibited sufficient genetic diversity using 12232 silicoDArT markers. Analysis of molecular variance (AMOVA) revealed that most of the variations (91%) in world safflower panel are due to differences within country groups. A model-based structure grouped the 94 safflower accessions into populations A, B, C and an admixture population upon membership coefficient. Neighbor joining analysis grouped the safflower accessions into two populations (A and B). Principal coordinate analysis (PCoA) also clustered the safflower accessions on the basis of geographical origin. Three accessions; Egypt-5, Egypt-2, and India-2 revealed the highest genetic distance and hence might be recommended as candidate parental lines for safflower breeding programs. The mixed linear model i.e., the Q + K model, demonstrated that two DArTseq markers (DArT-45483051 and DArT-15672391) had significant association (p < 0.01) for 100-seed weight. We envisage that identified DArTseq markers associated with 100-seed weight will be helpful to develop high-yielding cultivars of safflower through marker-assisted breeding in the near future. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Plant Biodiversity and Genetic Resources)
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Open AccessArticle
Seed Germination after 30 Years Storage in Permafrost
Plants 2020, 9(5), 579; https://doi.org/10.3390/plants9050579 - 02 May 2020
Abstract
More than 30 years ago, the Nordic Gene Bank established a long-term experiment on seeds stored under permafrost conditions in an abandoned mine corridor in Svalbard, as a tool to monitor storage life under these conditions. The study included seeds from 16 Nordic [...] Read more.
More than 30 years ago, the Nordic Gene Bank established a long-term experiment on seeds stored under permafrost conditions in an abandoned mine corridor in Svalbard, as a tool to monitor storage life under these conditions. The study included seeds from 16 Nordic agricultural and horticultural crops, each represented by two or three cultivars (altogether 38 accessions). All seeds were ultra-dried to 3–5% moisture before being sealed in glass tubes. Germination tests were performed in accordance with the International Seed Testing Association (ISTA) protocols. At the initiation of the experiment, the samples showed good germination with the median value at 92%. The overall picture remained stable over the first twenty to twenty-five years. However, the variation became larger over time and at 30 years, the median value had dropped to 80%. At the lower end, with a high drop in germination, we found rye, wheat, and English ryegrass. At the upper end, we found Kentucky bluegrass and cucumber. The lowest germination was found in samples with the highest initial seed moisture levels. Pre-storage conditions are likely to be of major importance for longevity. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Plant Biodiversity and Genetic Resources)
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Open AccessArticle
DNA Fingerprinting and Species Identification Uncovers the Genetic Diversity of Katsouni Pea in the Greek Islands Amorgos and Schinoussa
Plants 2020, 9(4), 479; https://doi.org/10.3390/plants9040479 - 09 Apr 2020
Abstract
Pea (P. sativum L.), one of the most important legume crops worldwide, has been traditionally cultivated in Lesser Cyclades since ancient times. The commonly known traditional pea cultivar, ‘Katsouni’, is endemic to the islands of Amorgos and Schinoussa and is of great [...] Read more.
Pea (P. sativum L.), one of the most important legume crops worldwide, has been traditionally cultivated in Lesser Cyclades since ancient times. The commonly known traditional pea cultivar, ‘Katsouni’, is endemic to the islands of Amorgos and Schinoussa and is of great local economic importance. Despite the widespread cultivation of ‘Katsouni’ in both islands, it is still unknown whether the current Schinoussa and Amorgos pea populations are distinct landraces, and if they have common evolutionary origin. To assist conservation and breeding of the pea crop, the genetic diversity and phylogenetic relationships of 39 pea samples from Amorgos and 86 from Schinoussa were studied using DNA barcoding and ISSR marker analyses. The results indicate that both populations are different landraces with distinct geographical distribution and are more closely related to P. sativum subsp. elatius than the P. abyssinicum and P. fulvum species. Further characterization of the ‘Katsouni’ landraces for functional polymorphisms regarding pathogen resistance, revealed susceptibility to the powdery mildew (Erysiphe pisi DC.). This work represents the first investigation on the genetic diversity and population structure of the ‘Katsouni’ cultivar. Exploiting the local genetic diversity of traditional landraces is fundamental for conservation practices and crop improvement through breeding strategies. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Plant Biodiversity and Genetic Resources)
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Open AccessArticle
Patterns of Genetic Diversity in Highly Invasive Species: Cogongrass (Imperata cylindrica) Expansion in the Invaded Range of the Southern United States (US)
Plants 2020, 9(4), 423; https://doi.org/10.3390/plants9040423 - 31 Mar 2020
Cited by 1
Abstract
The spatial expansions of invasive organisms in the novel range are generally expected to follow an isolation-by-distance relationship (IBD) if the invasion is biologically driven; however, many invasions are facilitated anthropogenically. This research focused on the extant expansion patterns of cogongrass (Imperata [...] Read more.
The spatial expansions of invasive organisms in the novel range are generally expected to follow an isolation-by-distance relationship (IBD) if the invasion is biologically driven; however, many invasions are facilitated anthropogenically. This research focused on the extant expansion patterns of cogongrass (Imperata cylindrica). Cogongrass is a widespread invasive species throughout the southern United States (US). Patterns of infestation vary among US states. Cogongrass is pyrogenic, and its invasion threatens softwood (Pinus spp.) plantations, a substantial economic market for this US region. Over 600 individuals were sampled from seven invaded US states, using amplified fragment length polymorphisms (AFLPs) to assess genetic diversity and population structure. We suspected that differences in historical management efforts among US states influenced differences in genetic diversity and structure. We detected two genetic lineages at the highest level of analysis. One genetic lineage was locally restricted, whereas the other was found throughout the study region. Admixed individuals were found in all US states and consistently co-occurred with the dominant lineage, suggesting that secondary contact and hybridization may have facilitated expansion. The widespread prevalence of only one of the two detected genetic lineages suggests a primary genetic lineage responsible for on-going population expansion in the US. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Plant Biodiversity and Genetic Resources)
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Open AccessArticle
Genetic Diversity and Population Structure of Rhododendron rex Subsp. rex Inferred from Microsatellite Markers and Chloroplast DNA Sequences
Plants 2020, 9(3), 338; https://doi.org/10.3390/plants9030338 - 07 Mar 2020
Abstract
Genetic diversity is vital to the sustainable utilization and conservation of plant species. Rhododendron rex subsp. rex Lévl. is an endangered species endemic to the southwest of China. Although the natural populations of this species are facing continuous decline due to the high [...] Read more.
Genetic diversity is vital to the sustainable utilization and conservation of plant species. Rhododendron rex subsp. rex Lévl. is an endangered species endemic to the southwest of China. Although the natural populations of this species are facing continuous decline due to the high frequency of anthropogenic disturbance, the genetic information of R. rex subsp. rex is not yet elucidated. In the present study, 10 pairs of microsatellite markers (nSSRs) and three pairs of chloroplast DNA (cpDNAs) were used in the elucidation of the genetic diversity, population structure, and demographic history of 11 R. rex subsp. rex populations. A total of 236 alleles and 12 haplotypes were found. A moderate genetic diversity within populations (HE = 0.540 for nSSRs, Hd = 0.788 for cpDNA markers), high historical and low contemporary gene flows, and moderate genetic differentiation (nSSR: FST = 0.165***; cpDNA: FST = 0.841***) were detected among the R. rex subsp. rex populations. Genetic and geographic distances showed significant correlation (p < 0.05) determined by the Mantel test. The species exhibited a conspicuous phylogeographical structure among the populations. Using the Bayesian skyline plot and species distribution models, we found that R. rex subsp. rex underwent a population demography contraction approximately 50,000–100,000 years ago. However, the species did not experience a recent population expansion event. Thus, habitat loss and destruction, which result in a population decline and species inbreeding depression, should be considered in the management and conservation of R. rex subsp. rex. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Plant Biodiversity and Genetic Resources)
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Open AccessArticle
Assessment of Genetic Diversity for Drought, Heat and Combined Drought and Heat Stress Tolerance in Early Maturing Maize Landraces
Plants 2019, 8(11), 518; https://doi.org/10.3390/plants8110518 - 17 Nov 2019
Cited by 5
Abstract
Climate change is expected to aggravate the effects of drought, heat and combined drought and heat stresses. An important step in developing ‘climate smart’ maize varieties is to identify germplasm with good levels of tolerance to the abiotic stresses. The primary objective of [...] Read more.
Climate change is expected to aggravate the effects of drought, heat and combined drought and heat stresses. An important step in developing ‘climate smart’ maize varieties is to identify germplasm with good levels of tolerance to the abiotic stresses. The primary objective of this study was to identify landraces with combined high yield potential and desirable secondary traits under drought, heat and combined drought and heat stresses. Thirty-three landraces from Burkina Faso (6), Ghana (6) and Togo (21), and three drought-tolerant populations/varieties from the Maize Improvement Program at the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture were evaluated under three conditions, namely managed drought stress, heat stress and combined drought and heat stress, with optimal growing conditions as control, for two years. The phenotypic and genetic correlations between grain yield of the different treatments were very weak, suggesting the presence of independent genetic control of yield to these stresses. However, grain yield under heat and combined drought and heat stresses were highly and positively correlated, indicating that heat-tolerant genotypes would most likely tolerate combined drought and stress. Yield reduction averaged 46% under managed drought stress, 55% under heat stress, and 66% under combined drought and heat stress, which reflected hypo-additive effect of drought and heat stress on grain yield of the maize accessions. Accession GH-3505 was highly tolerant to drought, while GH-4859 and TZm-1353 were tolerant to the three stresses. These landrace accessions can be invaluable sources of genes/alleles for breeding for adaptation of maize to climate change. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Plant Biodiversity and Genetic Resources)
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Review

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Open AccessReview
A Dual Strategy of Breeding for Drought Tolerance and Introducing Drought-Tolerant, Underutilized Crops into Production Systems to Enhance Their Resilience to Water Deficiency
Plants 2020, 9(10), 1263; https://doi.org/10.3390/plants9101263 - 24 Sep 2020
Abstract
Water scarcity is the primary constraint on crop productivity in arid and semiarid tropical areas suffering from climate alterations; in accordance, agricultural systems have to be optimized. Several concepts and strategies should be considered to improve crop yield and quality, particularly in vulnerable [...] Read more.
Water scarcity is the primary constraint on crop productivity in arid and semiarid tropical areas suffering from climate alterations; in accordance, agricultural systems have to be optimized. Several concepts and strategies should be considered to improve crop yield and quality, particularly in vulnerable regions where such environmental changes cause a risk of food insecurity. In this work, we review two strategies aiming to increase drought stress tolerance: (i) the use of natural genes that have evolved over time and are preserved in crop wild relatives and landraces for drought tolerance breeding using conventional and molecular methods and (ii) exploiting the reservoir of neglected and underutilized species to identify those that are known to be more drought-tolerant than conventional staple crops while possessing other desired agronomic and nutritive characteristics, as well as introducing them into existing cropping systems to make them more resilient to water deficiency conditions. In the past, the existence of drought tolerance genes in crop wild relatives and landraces was either unknown or difficult to exploit using traditional breeding techniques to secure potential long-term solutions. Today, with the advances in genomics and phenomics, there are a number of new tools available that facilitate the discovery of drought resistance genes in crop wild relatives and landraces and their relatively easy transfer into advanced breeding lines, thus accelerating breeding progress and creating resilient varieties that can withstand prolonged drought periods. Among those tools are marker-assisted selection (MAS), genomic selection (GS), and targeted gene editing (clustered regularly interspaced short palindromic repeat (CRISPR) technology). The integration of these two major strategies, the advances in conventional and molecular breeding for the drought tolerance of conventional staple crops, and the introduction of drought-tolerant neglected and underutilized species into existing production systems has the potential to enhance the resilience of agricultural production under conditions of water scarcity. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Plant Biodiversity and Genetic Resources)
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Open AccessReview
Punica protopunica Balf., the Forgotten Sister of the Common Pomegranate (Punica granatum L.): Features and Medicinal Properties—A Review
Plants 2020, 9(9), 1214; https://doi.org/10.3390/plants9091214 - 16 Sep 2020
Abstract
Punica protopunica Balf. is one of only two species housed by the Punica genera. Punica protopunica. Balf., known as Socotran pomegranate, is an endemic, isolated species found only in Socotra archipelago in the northwestern Indian Ocean, and is considered to be the ancestor [...] Read more.
Punica protopunica Balf. is one of only two species housed by the Punica genera. Punica protopunica. Balf., known as Socotran pomegranate, is an endemic, isolated species found only in Socotra archipelago in the northwestern Indian Ocean, and is considered to be the ancestor of pomegranate. This review stems from the fact that in many Punica granatum L. articles, Punica protopunica Balf. is mentioned, but just in an informative way, without mentioning their taxonomic and genetic relationship and their medicinal properties. It is there where the need arises to know more about this forgotten species: “the other pomegranate tree.” A large part of the human population does not know of its existence, since only its “sister” has spread throughout the world. The present review deals with the taxonomy and origin of Punica protopunica Balf., the morphology of the tree, distribution, cultivation, vulnerability, and as well as its relationship with Punica granatum L. It also discusses its uses in traditional medicine, its antioxidant capacity, and the medicinal properties of this forgotten species. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Plant Biodiversity and Genetic Resources)
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Open AccessFeature PaperReview
Toward Unifying Global Hotspots of Wild and Domesticated Biodiversity
Plants 2020, 9(9), 1128; https://doi.org/10.3390/plants9091128 - 31 Aug 2020
Abstract
Global biodiversity hotspots are areas containing high levels of species richness, endemism and threat. Similarly, regions of agriculturally relevant diversity have been identified where many domesticated plants and animals originated, and co-occurred with their wild ancestors and relatives. The agro-biodiversity in these regions [...] Read more.
Global biodiversity hotspots are areas containing high levels of species richness, endemism and threat. Similarly, regions of agriculturally relevant diversity have been identified where many domesticated plants and animals originated, and co-occurred with their wild ancestors and relatives. The agro-biodiversity in these regions has, likewise, often been considered threatened. Biodiversity and agro-biodiversity hotspots partly overlap, but their geographic intricacies have rarely been investigated together. Here we review the history of these two concepts and explore their geographic relationship by analysing global distribution and human use data for all plants, and for major crops and associated wild relatives. We highlight a geographic continuum between agro-biodiversity hotspots that contain high richness in species that are intensively used and well known by humanity (i.e., major crops and most viewed species on Wikipedia) and biodiversity hotspots encompassing species that are less heavily used and documented (i.e., crop wild relatives and species lacking information on Wikipedia). Our contribution highlights the key considerations needed for further developing a unifying concept of agro-biodiversity hotspots that encompasses multiple facets of diversity (including genetic and phylogenetic) and the linkage with overall biodiversity. This integration will ultimately enhance our understanding of the geography of human-plant interactions and help guide the preservation of nature and its contributions to people. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Plant Biodiversity and Genetic Resources)
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Open AccessFeature PaperReview
Document or Lose It—On the Importance of Information Management for Genetic Resources Conservation in Genebanks
Plants 2020, 9(8), 1050; https://doi.org/10.3390/plants9081050 - 18 Aug 2020
Abstract
Genebanks play an important role in the long-term conservation of plant genetic resources and are complementary to the conservation of diversity in farmers’ fields and in nature. In this context, documentation plays a critical role. Without well-structured documentation, it is not possible to [...] Read more.
Genebanks play an important role in the long-term conservation of plant genetic resources and are complementary to the conservation of diversity in farmers’ fields and in nature. In this context, documentation plays a critical role. Without well-structured documentation, it is not possible to make statements about the value of a resource, especially with regard to its potential for breeding and research. In particular, comprehensive information management is a prerequisite for the further development of genebank collections. This requires detailed information about the composition of a collection, thus allowing statements about which species and/or regions of origin are under-represented. This task is of strategic importance, especially due to the threats to crop plants and their wild relatives caused by advancing climate change. Both the actual conservation management and the fulfilment of legal obligations depend on information. Hence, documentation units have been established in almost all genebanks worldwide. They all face the challenge that knowledge about genebank accessions must be permanently managed and passed on across generations. International standards such as Multi-Crop Passport Descriptors (MCPD) have been established for the exchange of data between genebanks, and allow the operation of international information systems, such as the World Information and Early Warning System on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture (WIEWS), the European Search Catalogue for Plant Genetic Resources (EURISCO) or Genesys. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Plant Biodiversity and Genetic Resources)
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Open AccessFeature PaperReview
Main Challenges and Actions Needed to Improve Conservation and Sustainable Use of Our Crop Wild Relatives
Plants 2020, 9(8), 968; https://doi.org/10.3390/plants9080968 - 30 Jul 2020
Abstract
Crop wild relatives (CWR, plural CWRs) are those wild species that are regarded as the ancestors of our cultivated crops. It was only at the end of the last century that they were accorded a high priority for their conservation and, thus, for [...] Read more.
Crop wild relatives (CWR, plural CWRs) are those wild species that are regarded as the ancestors of our cultivated crops. It was only at the end of the last century that they were accorded a high priority for their conservation and, thus, for many genebanks, they are a new and somewhat unknown set of plant genetic resources for food and agriculture. After defining and characterizing CWR and their general threat status, providing an assessment of biological peculiarities of CWR with respect to conservation management, illustrating the need for prioritization and addressing the importance of data and information, we made a detailed assessment of specific aspects of CWRs of direct relevance for their conservation and use. This assessment was complemented by an overview of the current status of CWRs conservation and use, including facts and figures on the in situ conservation, on the ex situ conservation in genebanks and botanic gardens, as well as of the advantages of a combination of in situ and ex situ conservation, the so-called complementary conservation approach. In addition, a brief assessment of the situation with respect to the use of CWRs was made. From these assessments we derived the needs for action in order to achieve a more effective and efficient conservation and use, specifically with respect to the documentation of CWRs, their in situ and ex situ, as well as their complementarity conservation, and how synergies between these components can be obtained. The review was concluded with suggestions on how use can be strengthened, as well as the conservation system at large at the local, national, and regional/international level. Finally, based on the foregoing assessments, a number of recommendations were elaborated on how CWRs can be better conserved and used in order to exploit their potential benefits more effectively. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Plant Biodiversity and Genetic Resources)
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Open AccessReview
Genebank Phenomics: A Strategic Approach to Enhance Value and Utilization of Crop Germplasm
Plants 2020, 9(7), 817; https://doi.org/10.3390/plants9070817 - 29 Jun 2020
Cited by 1
Abstract
Genetically diverse plant germplasm stored in ex-situ genebanks are excellent resources for breeding new high yielding and sustainable crop varieties to ensure future food security. Novel alleles have been discovered through routine genebank activities such as seed regeneration and characterization, with subsequent utilization [...] Read more.
Genetically diverse plant germplasm stored in ex-situ genebanks are excellent resources for breeding new high yielding and sustainable crop varieties to ensure future food security. Novel alleles have been discovered through routine genebank activities such as seed regeneration and characterization, with subsequent utilization providing significant genetic gains and improvements for the selection of favorable traits, including yield, biotic, and abiotic resistance. Although some genebanks have implemented cost-effective genotyping technologies through advances in DNA technology, the adoption of modern phenotyping is lagging. The introduction of advanced phenotyping technologies in recent decades has provided genebank scientists with time and cost-effective screening tools to obtain valuable phenotypic data for more traits on large germplasm collections during routine activities. The utilization of these phenotyping tools, coupled with high-throughput genotyping, will accelerate the use of genetic resources and fast-track the development of more resilient food crops for the future. In this review, we highlight current digital phenotyping methods that can capture traits during annual seed regeneration to enrich genebank phenotypic datasets. Next, we describe strategies for the collection and use of phenotypic data of specific traits for downstream research using high-throughput phenotyping technology. Finally, we examine the challenges and future perspectives of genebank phenomics. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Plant Biodiversity and Genetic Resources)
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Open AccessFeature PaperReview
The Role of Vegetable Genetic Resources in Nutrition Security and Vegetable Breeding
Plants 2020, 9(6), 736; https://doi.org/10.3390/plants9060736 - 11 Jun 2020
Cited by 1
Abstract
Malnutrition, comprising undernutrition, micronutrient deficiency, and overnutrition, is more widespread than hunger per se and affects most nations around the globe. The diversity and the quality of food produced and consumed are decisive factors when addressing the triple burden of malnutrition. In this [...] Read more.
Malnutrition, comprising undernutrition, micronutrient deficiency, and overnutrition, is more widespread than hunger per se and affects most nations around the globe. The diversity and the quality of food produced and consumed are decisive factors when addressing the triple burden of malnutrition. In this context, fruit, vegetables, and nuts are increasingly moving into the focus of the nutrition community. Agricultural policies and investments in agriculture are predominantly focused on staple food production, neglecting the economic and nutritional potential of fruit and vegetables. While global vegetables are well represented in genebanks around the globe, this is much less the case for traditional vegetables. Collecting efforts in hotspots of vegetable diversity in Africa and Asia are required to conserve this germplasm before it is being replaced by modern varieties. Home gardens, community seedbanks, and variety introduction through vegetable seed kits are ways how genebanks can link with the farming community to strengthen the informal seed sector. This in turn may result in more diverse production systems and increased consumption of fruit and vegetables. In the formal seed sector, vegetable breeders need access to a wide diversity of genetic resources, predominantly farmers’ varieties, landraces, and crop wild relatives. Genomics-assisted breeding is increasingly facilitating the introgression of favorable genes and quantitative trait loci (QTLs) with complex inheritance patterns from wild species into cultigens. This will lead to wider use of crop wild relatives in the development of resilient cultivars. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Plant Biodiversity and Genetic Resources)
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Open AccessFeature PaperReview
Why Seed Physiology Is Important for Genebanking
Plants 2020, 9(5), 584; https://doi.org/10.3390/plants9050584 - 02 May 2020
Cited by 1
Abstract
Genebank management is a field in its own right; it is multifaceted, requiring a diverse set of skills and knowledge. Seed physiology is one area that is critical to the successful operation of seed genebanks, requiring understanding of seed quality during development and [...] Read more.
Genebank management is a field in its own right; it is multifaceted, requiring a diverse set of skills and knowledge. Seed physiology is one area that is critical to the successful operation of seed genebanks, requiring understanding of seed quality during development and maturation, seed dormancy and germination, and seed longevity in storage of the target species. Careful management of the workflow between these activities, as seeds move from harvest to storage, and the recording and management of all relevant associated data, is key to ensuring the effective conservation of plant genetic resources. This review will discuss various aspects of seed physiology that genebank managers should be aware of, to ensure appropriate decisions are made about the handling and management of their seed collections. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Plant Biodiversity and Genetic Resources)
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Open AccessFeature PaperReview
Progress and Challenges in Ex Situ Conservation of Forage Germplasm: Grasses, Herbaceous Legumes and Fodder Trees
Plants 2020, 9(4), 446; https://doi.org/10.3390/plants9040446 - 02 Apr 2020
Cited by 2
Abstract
Forages provide an important livestock feed resource globally, particularly for millions of smallholder farmers, and have important roles in natural resource management and carbon sequestration, reducing soil erosion and mitigating the effects of climate change. Forage germplasm remains the basis for the selection [...] Read more.
Forages provide an important livestock feed resource globally, particularly for millions of smallholder farmers, and have important roles in natural resource management and carbon sequestration, reducing soil erosion and mitigating the effects of climate change. Forage germplasm remains the basis for the selection and development of new, higher-yielding and better adaptedgenotypes to meet the increasing demand for livestock feed. Rapid rates of genetic erosion of forage diversity due to land-use change from natural pastures and rangelands to crop production to meet the food security requirements of a growing global population, together with pressures from a changing climate, highlight the necessity for ex situ seed conservation of forage genetic resources to provide germplasm for use by future generations. Whilst many forage species have orthodox seeds, the diverse range of genera and species which provide forage is a challenge in terms of the wide scope of information and understanding on conservation methods that genebank managers require—particularly for tropical forages, many of which are comparatively under-researched. We review the challenges to the conservation of tropical forage species by seed in ex situ genebanks and provide information on optimum methods for their management. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Plant Biodiversity and Genetic Resources)
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