Special Issue "Genetic Resources for Sustainable Agriculture"

A special issue of Sustainability (ISSN 2071-1050). This special issue belongs to the section "Sustainable Agriculture, Food and Wildlife".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (31 October 2019).

Special Issue Editors

Prof. Valeria Negri
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
Università degli Studi di Perugia, Dipartimento di Scienze Agrarie, Perugia, Italy
Tel. +39 075 585 6218
Interests: plant genetic resources; in situ conservation and evolution; breeding for sustainability
Dr. Lorenzo Raggi
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
Università degli Studi di Perugia, Dipartimento di Scienze Agrarie, Perugia, Italy
Tel. +39 075 585 6212
Interests: plant genetic diversity characterization; plant adaptation; genetic diversity for sustainable agriculture

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

A wide variety of plant genetic resources (PGR) is the basis of food and nutrition security, as well as the foundation of economic security in the agricultural sector. However, mainstream agriculture currently depends on very little diversity, both in terms of the number of crop species cultivated and diversity within those crops.

There is an urgent need to promote the conservation of crop diversity by showing its utility in sustainable agriculture through the development of materials characterized by improved efficiency in nutrients utilizations, yield stability, and resilience to cope with new challenges caused by the actual climate change scenario.

In this scenario, the in situ (on-farm) management of PGR is extremely relevant since it allows a continuous evolution and adaptation of conserved materials to changing environmental forces, and thus the generation of new diversity, which is considered to be relevant for future crop improvement. Indeed, a deeper understanding of in situ crop diversity evolution mechanisms must be pursued. In this process, molecular markers certainly play a crucial role in allowing deep germplasm characterization and a more comprehensive understanding of crop genetic diversity, in addition to its structure and evolution.

The use of technologically advanced methods on PGR will help in achieving a better conservation and use of diversity for sustainable agriculture.

This Special Issue of Sustainability is thus focused on use of PGR in such types of agriculture.

The main topics to be covered include (but are not limited to):

  • Promotion and use of PGR in sustainable agriculture;
  • Use of PGR in breeding for improved sustainability;
  • PGR genetic diversity characterization and understanding of its evolution;
  • Sustainable conservation of crop wild relatives.

Prof. Valeria Negri
Dr. Lorenzo Raggi
Guest Editors

Manuscript Submission Information

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Keywords

  • sustainable conservation and the use of plant genetic resources
  • diversity evolution
  • breeding for sustainable agriculture

Published Papers (22 papers)

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Research

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Open AccessArticle
Management Practices and Breeding History of Varieties Strongly Determine the Fine Genetic Structure of Crop Populations: A Case Study Based on European Wheat Populations
Sustainability 2020, 12(2), 613; https://doi.org/10.3390/su12020613 - 14 Jan 2020
Abstract
As the effects of climate change begin to be felt on yield stability, it is becoming essential to promote the use of genetic diversity in farmers’ fields. The presence of genetic variability in variety could fulfil this purpose. Indeed, the level of intra-varietal [...] Read more.
As the effects of climate change begin to be felt on yield stability, it is becoming essential to promote the use of genetic diversity in farmers’ fields. The presence of genetic variability in variety could fulfil this purpose. Indeed, the level of intra-varietal genetic diversity influences the spatio-temporal stability of yields and the disease susceptibility of crop species. Breeding history of varieties and their management practices are two factors that should influence intra-varietal genetic diversity. This paper describes the genetic diversity of eight wheat samples covering a gradient from modern single varieties to on-farm mixtures of landraces. This gradient discriminates between landrace, historical and modern varieties, considering the breeding history of varieties, between single-varieties and mixtures of varieties, and between ex situ and in situ de facto strategy in terms of management practices. Genetic diversity of these samples was analyzed with the help of 41 single nucleotide polymorphism markers located in neutral regions, through computing genetic indices at three different levels: Allelic, haplotypic and genetic group level. Population structure and kinship were depicted using discriminant analysis and kinship network analysis. Results revealed an increase in the complexity of the genetic structure as we move on the gradient of variety types (from modern single variety to in situ on-farm mixtures of landraces). For the landraces, the highest levels of genetic diversity have been observed for a landrace (Solina d’Abruzzo) continuously grown on-farm in the region of Abruzzo, in Italy, for many decades. This landrace showed an excess of haplotypic diversity compared to landraces or the historical variety that were stored in genebanks (ex situ conservation). Genetic analyses of the mixtures revealed that, despite a very high selfing rate in wheat, growing in evolutionary mixtures promotes recombination between different genetic components of the mixture, a second way to increase the level of haplotype diversity. When management practices such as growing in mixture and on-farm management are combined, they substantially increase the different levels of genetic diversity of the populations (allelic, haplotypic, genetic group diversity), and consequently promote their adaptability. Our results confirm the need to develop and manage evolving diversified large populations on-farm. These results invite crop diversity managers such as genebank curators, community seed bank managers and farmers’ organizations to adapt their management strategies to the type of variety they wish to manage, because we have shown that their choices have a strong influence on the genetic composition of the crop populations. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Genetic Resources for Sustainable Agriculture)
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Open AccessArticle
Genetic Diversity and Stability of Performance of Wheat Population Varieties Developed by Participatory Breeding
Sustainability 2020, 12(1), 384; https://doi.org/10.3390/su12010384 - 03 Jan 2020
Abstract
Modern agricultural systems rely on reduced crop genetic diversity, due in particular to the use of homogeneous elite varieties grown in large areas. However, genetic diversity within fields is a lever for a more sustainable production, allowing greater stability and resistance to biotic [...] Read more.
Modern agricultural systems rely on reduced crop genetic diversity, due in particular to the use of homogeneous elite varieties grown in large areas. However, genetic diversity within fields is a lever for a more sustainable production, allowing greater stability and resistance to biotic and abiotic stresses. In France, a Participatory Plant Breeding (PPB) project on bread wheat, involving farmers, facilitators and researchers, has led to the development of heterogeneous populations whose within-variety genetic diversity is expected to confer the ability to adapt to farmers’ practices and environments. We studied the stability and local adaptation of ten of these farmers’ populations as well as two commercial varieties in relation to their within-variety genetic diversity. Although no clear evidence of local adaptation was detected, we found that populations’ grain yield and protein content were more stable over space and time respectively than those of commercial varieties. Moreover, the varieties’ stability over time in terms of protein content was positively correlated with within-variety genetic diversity with no significant drawback on protein yield. These results demonstrate the wide adaptive potential of PPB populations, highlighting the importance of seed exchange networks for agrobiodiversity management and use. They emphasize the benefits of genetic diversity for stability over time, which is of great interest to farmers. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Genetic Resources for Sustainable Agriculture)
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Open AccessArticle
Agronomic Evaluation of Bread Wheat Varieties from Participatory Breeding: A Combination of Performance and Robustness
Sustainability 2020, 12(1), 128; https://doi.org/10.3390/su12010128 - 23 Dec 2019
Cited by 1
Abstract
Participatory plant breeding (PPB) is based on the decentralization of selection in farmers’ fields and their involvement in decision-making at all steps of the breeding scheme. Despite the evidence of its benefits to develop population varieties adapted to diversified and local practices and [...] Read more.
Participatory plant breeding (PPB) is based on the decentralization of selection in farmers’ fields and their involvement in decision-making at all steps of the breeding scheme. Despite the evidence of its benefits to develop population varieties adapted to diversified and local practices and conditions, such as organic farming, PPB is still not widely used. There is a need to share more broadly how the different programs have overcome scientific, practical, and organizational issues and produced a large number of positive outcomes. Here, we report on a PPB program that started on bread wheat in France in 2006 and has achieved a range of outcomes, from the emergence of new organization among actors, to specific experimental designs and statistical methods developed, and to populations varieties developed and cultivated by farmers. We present the results of a two-year agronomic evaluation of the first population varieties developed within this PPB program compared to two commercial varieties currently grown in organic agriculture. We found that several PPB varieties were of great agronomic interest, combining relatively good performance even under the most favorable conditions of organic agriculture and good robustness, i.e., the ability to maintain productivity under more constraining conditions. The PPB varieties also tended to show a good temporal dynamic stability and appeared promising for the farmers involved. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Genetic Resources for Sustainable Agriculture)
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Open AccessArticle
Consumers’ Valuation of Farmers’ Varieties for Food System Diversity
Sustainability 2019, 11(24), 7134; https://doi.org/10.3390/su11247134 - 12 Dec 2019
Abstract
To increase the diversity in the food system from seed to fork, participatory on-farm breeding schemes have been proposed. For participatory on-farm breeding schemes to be successful, consumers need to be willing to compensate farmers for their efforts in breeding and in diversifying [...] Read more.
To increase the diversity in the food system from seed to fork, participatory on-farm breeding schemes have been proposed. For participatory on-farm breeding schemes to be successful, consumers need to be willing to compensate farmers for their efforts in breeding and in diversifying their cultivation. Using vegetables as an example, we investigated whether consumers of four selected European countries liked the idea of having farmers breed their own varieties and whether they would be willing to pay a premium for farmers’ as compared to standard varieties in a supermarket setting. The data was collected in an online survey and a willingness to pay was elicited using a contingent valuation approach. After providing respondents with information about the problem (diversity loss), solution (on-farm breeding), and the benefits of farmers’ varieties, consumers’ acceptance was very high and consumers were willing to pay a small premium. Our findings suggest that farmers’ varieties can be appealing to a wide range of consumers if the appropriate information is provided, as they not only address the increasing demand for more sustainable products but also for more food diversity and tasty products. To our knowledge, this is the first study to examine consumer preferences for farmers’ varieties for food system diversity. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Genetic Resources for Sustainable Agriculture)
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Open AccessArticle
How to Discover Traditional Varieties and Shape in a National Germplasm Collection: The Case of Finnish Seed Born Apples (Malus × domestica Borkh.)
Sustainability 2019, 11(24), 7000; https://doi.org/10.3390/su11247000 - 07 Dec 2019
Abstract
Cultivated apple (Malus × domestica Borkh.) is a major crop of economic importance, both globally and regionally. It is currently, and was also in the past, the main commercial fruit in the northern European countries. In Finland, apple trees are grown on [...] Read more.
Cultivated apple (Malus × domestica Borkh.) is a major crop of economic importance, both globally and regionally. It is currently, and was also in the past, the main commercial fruit in the northern European countries. In Finland, apple trees are grown on the frontier of their northern growing limits. Because of these limits, growing an apple tree from a seed was discovered in practice to be the most appropriate method to get trees that bear fruit for people in the north. This created a unique culturally and genetically rich native germplasm to meet the various needs of apple growers and consumers from the late 1800s to the mid-1900s. The preservation, study and use of this genetic heritage falls within the mandate of the Finnish National Genetic Resources Program. The first national apple clonal collection for germplasm preservation was reorganized from the collections of apple breeders. The need to evaluate the accessions, both in this collection and possible missing ones, to meet the program strategy lead us to evaluate the Finnish apple heritage that is still available in situ in gardens. In this article we use multiple-approach methodologies and datasets to gain well-described, proof-rich samples for the trueness-to-type analysis of old heirloom apple varieties. The approach includes a combination of socio-historic, pomological and genotyping methods and datasets that are all valued as equally important. The main finding was that in addition to the pomological, molecular and genetic evaluation of ex situ apple collections, an extensive historical data and socio-economic conditions research are essential to perform good characterization of accessions. After implementing the results in re-creating the Finnish national apple germplasm collection, the number of Finnish local varieties was more than doubled from 38 accessions to 97. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Genetic Resources for Sustainable Agriculture)
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Open AccessArticle
Diversity and Pre-Breeding Prospects for Local Adaptation in Oat Genetic Resources
Sustainability 2019, 11(24), 6950; https://doi.org/10.3390/su11246950 - 05 Dec 2019
Abstract
Acreage of oat (Avena sativa L.) in Europe was steadily declining during the last century due to less breeding progress compared to other cereals. However, oat remains a valuable crop for food and feed, as well as for sustainable crop rotations. To [...] Read more.
Acreage of oat (Avena sativa L.) in Europe was steadily declining during the last century due to less breeding progress compared to other cereals. However, oat remains a valuable crop for food and feed, as well as for sustainable crop rotations. To unravel the genetic and phenotypic diversity in oat breeders’ germplasm collections, a diversity panel including 260 accessions was investigated by molecular markers and in multi-environment field trials. Due to the large genetic variation in the present diversity panel, high heritabilities were observed for most agro-morphological traits, even for complex traits such as grain yield. Population structure analyses identified three subpopulations which were not straightforwardly related to the geographic origin of the accessions. Accessions from France, Germany, and the Czech Republic in particular were present in approximately equal proportions among all three subpopulations. Breeders’ selection after one year of field trials was mainly based on grain yield, grain weight, grading, plant height, and maturity and did not result in a loss of genetic diversity. However, the low number of polymorphic markers must be considered in this case. The present study provides basic knowledge for further oat improvement through the identification of valuable genetic resources which can be exploited in breeding programs as e.g., parental genotypes in crossings. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Genetic Resources for Sustainable Agriculture)
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Open AccessArticle
Differential Allelic Richness between Malus sylvestris L. and Malus × domestica Borkh. from Finland as a Measure of Genetic Loss
Sustainability 2019, 11(24), 6949; https://doi.org/10.3390/su11246949 - 05 Dec 2019
Abstract
European wild apple (Malus sylvestris L.) is the only Malus wild species native to Europe which is a relative of cultivated apples (Malus × domestica Borkh.). It grows on forests’ edges, farmland hedges, and marginal sites; by living in those scattered [...] Read more.
European wild apple (Malus sylvestris L.) is the only Malus wild species native to Europe which is a relative of cultivated apples (Malus × domestica Borkh.). It grows on forests’ edges, farmland hedges, and marginal sites; by living in those scattered meta-populations, it is exposed to genetic erosion in relation to hybridization and habitat degradation. In Finland, it grows at the northern edge of its distribution in Europe and is considered as a near-threatened taxon requiring urgent conservation. In order to evaluate the molecular genetic diversity of M. sylvestris, five populations including 43 trees were analyzed using 15 microsatellite markers. Additionally, a similar number of samples from cultivated apples, which are common to the same region, was included in order to estimate gene diversity gaps and give an insight into putative hybridization. European wild apple in Finland proved to be populationally structured, and seems not to be threatened by introgression events from its cultivated relative. They were all separated into different clusters, except for one individual. However, urgent conservation is indeed needed, especially due to the very low total number of trees (four) in some of the analyzed populations. These populations should be restored in order to enable permanent access to the wild relatives’ diversity, as they might be a critical source of gene variants for future needs. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Genetic Resources for Sustainable Agriculture)
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Open AccessArticle
The Genetic Structure of the Field Pea Landrace “Roveja di Civita di Cascia”
Sustainability 2019, 11(22), 6493; https://doi.org/10.3390/su11226493 - 18 Nov 2019
Abstract
“Roveja di Civita di Cascia” is a landrace of Pisum sativum grown in marginal land habitats of the Apennines, Central Italy, and is one of the eleven herbaceous crop landraces listed in the Regional Register of local varieties. The objective of the present [...] Read more.
“Roveja di Civita di Cascia” is a landrace of Pisum sativum grown in marginal land habitats of the Apennines, Central Italy, and is one of the eleven herbaceous crop landraces listed in the Regional Register of local varieties. The objective of the present paper was to assess its genetic structure using 62 morphological traits and five microsatellites. As many as 55 traits showed significant differences with the control entries (P. sativum subsp. sativum var. arvense and var. sativum). We tested P. sativum Simple Sequence Repeats (SSRs) for their transferability to “Roveja”, and found that only 12 out of 35 performed well. Of these, we demonstrated that five were sufficient to assess the genetic structure of this landrace, characterized by several private alleles, differentiating it from Paladio and Bluemoon, which were used as controls. Phenotypic and genotypic data evidenced a genetic structure based on a blend of several pure-bred lines. The sustainability of on-farm landrace conservation is discussed. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Genetic Resources for Sustainable Agriculture)
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Open AccessArticle
Extent of Bollworm and Sucking Pest Damage on Modern and Traditional Cotton Species and Potential for Breeding in Organic Cotton
Sustainability 2019, 11(22), 6353; https://doi.org/10.3390/su11226353 - 12 Nov 2019
Abstract
Resistance against cotton bollworm is one of the main arguments for the use of genetically modified (GM) Bt cotton around the globe. The use of GM is prohibited in organic systems and thus the remunerative value of organic cotton cultivation depends on effective [...] Read more.
Resistance against cotton bollworm is one of the main arguments for the use of genetically modified (GM) Bt cotton around the globe. The use of GM is prohibited in organic systems and thus the remunerative value of organic cotton cultivation depends on effective bollworm control. In this study, we investigated the extent of bollworm and sucking pest damage in 68 different hybrid and varietal lines of Gossypium hirsutum and varietal lines of G. arboreum at two different locations with contrasting soil fertility and water dynamics. The damage potential of bollworms was assessed from open capsules at two time points. Sucking pests were assessed at three time points using a scoring method. G. arboreum varietal lines and G. hirsutum hybrids were on average significantly more tolerant than G. hirsutum varietal lines to bollworm under fertile and irrigated situations. For sucking pests, the G. arboreum varietal lines were clearly more tolerant than G. hirsutum hybrids and varietal lines. Since, recently, pink bollworm (Pectinophora gossypiella) became resistant against Bt cotton and pressure of sucking pests severely increased, screening of genetic resources and systems-based cotton breeding for bollworm and sucking pest tolerance will improve sustainability of organic and conventional cotton production. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Genetic Resources for Sustainable Agriculture)
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Open AccessArticle
Performance and Nutritional Properties of Einkorn, Emmer and Rivet Wheat in Response to Different Rotational Position and Soil Tillage
Sustainability 2019, 11(22), 6304; https://doi.org/10.3390/su11226304 - 09 Nov 2019
Abstract
Einkorn, emmer, and rivet are three species of wheat that have largely been neglected in modern agriculture. There is a revived interest in these species as potentially successful alternatives to mainstream wheat in organic and low-input cropping systems and as sources of highly [...] Read more.
Einkorn, emmer, and rivet are three species of wheat that have largely been neglected in modern agriculture. There is a revived interest in these species as potentially successful alternatives to mainstream wheat in organic and low-input cropping systems and as sources of highly nutritious food. However, the availability of literature studies concerning rotational positions and soil tillage management is still scarce. The aim of this study was to explore the field (cover, disease resistance, yield) and quality performance (protein, fats, fiber, polyphenols, flavonoids, and antioxidant activity) of these species when organically grown in the United Kingdom. As part of the H2020 DIVERSIFOOD project, different cultivars of each species, including landraces, populations, old varieties, and where available, commercial varieties, were included in the experiment. Rotational position and tillage systems significantly affected the main agronomic performance of the minor cereals investigated, suggesting that low fertility and shallow-non-inversion tillage might be suitable options to manage tall species. Emmer showed the highest incidence of foliar diseases, whereas einkorn and rivet wheat appeared quasi-immune to the main fungal diseases (stripe rust, septoria). In addition, nutritional and nutraceutical investigation showed that the rotational position and soil management also affect metabolic pathways differently by species and within species, by genotype. Our results suggest a good potential to introduce these species in sustainable cropping systems. Furthermore, the interesting species and cultivar-by-management interactions observed can pave the way for future, better focused, research on these underutilized and underexplored species. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Genetic Resources for Sustainable Agriculture)
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Open AccessArticle
Heterogeneous Winter Wheat Populations Differ in Yield Stability Depending on their Genetic Background and Management System
Sustainability 2019, 11(21), 6172; https://doi.org/10.3390/su11216172 - 05 Nov 2019
Abstract
Twelve winter wheat composite cross populations (CCPs), based on three genetic backgrounds and maintained at the University of Kassel, Germany, under both organic and conventional management, were assessed for yield performance and stability in comparison to two commercial varieties over eight and 10 [...] Read more.
Twelve winter wheat composite cross populations (CCPs), based on three genetic backgrounds and maintained at the University of Kassel, Germany, under both organic and conventional management, were assessed for yield performance and stability in comparison to two commercial varieties over eight and 10 experimental years. A number of stability parameters were chosen in order to identify populations with either adaptation to specific environments or broad adaptation across environments. The genetic effects of the CCP parental varieties were clearly present when comparing CCP yield performance in both management systems. Compared to the variety ‘Capo’, CCPs yielded similarly under organic, but poorer under conventional conditions. Under both management systems, CCPs with the broadest or with a more modern (high yielding) genetic base achieved the greatest yield stability, exceeding that of ‘Capo’, and demonstrating the buffering capacity of genetic diversity. CCPs with a genetic background of high yielding parents reacted most strongly to the different environments and apparently diverged under conventional management over time. Possibilities to improve CCPs through the addition of new genetic material while maintaining the benefits of diversity to achieve higher and more stable yields, particularly in light of increasingly unpredictable climatic conditions are discussed. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Genetic Resources for Sustainable Agriculture)
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Open AccessArticle
Maize Open-Pollinated Populations Physiological Improvement: Validating Tools for Drought Response Participatory Selection
Sustainability 2019, 11(21), 6081; https://doi.org/10.3390/su11216081 - 01 Nov 2019
Abstract
Participatory selection—exploiting specific adaptation traits to target environments—helps to guarantees yield stability in a changing climate, in particular under low-input or organic production. The purpose of the present study was to identify reliable, low-cost, fast and easy-to-use tools to complement traditional selection for [...] Read more.
Participatory selection—exploiting specific adaptation traits to target environments—helps to guarantees yield stability in a changing climate, in particular under low-input or organic production. The purpose of the present study was to identify reliable, low-cost, fast and easy-to-use tools to complement traditional selection for an effective participatory improvement of maize populations for drought resistance/tolerance. The morphological and eco-physiological responses to progressive water deprivation of four maize open-pollinated populations were assessed in both controlled and field conditions. Thermography and Chl a fluorescence, validated by gas exchange indicated that the best performing populations under water-deficit conditions were ‘Fandango’ and to a less extent ‘Pigarro’ (both from participatory breeding). These populations showed high yield potential under optimal and reduced watering. Under moderate water stress, ‘Bilhó’, originating from an altitude of 800 m, is one of the most resilient populations. The experiments under chamber conditions confirmed the existence of genetic variability within ‘Pigarro’ and ‘Fandango’ for drought response relevant for future populations breeding. Based on the easiness to score and population discriminatory power, the performance index (PIABS) emerges as an integrative phenotyping tool to use as a refinement of the common participatory maize selection especially under moderate water deprivation. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Genetic Resources for Sustainable Agriculture)
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Open AccessArticle
Addressing the Role of Landraces in the Sustainability of Mediterranean Agroecosystems
Sustainability 2019, 11(21), 6029; https://doi.org/10.3390/su11216029 - 30 Oct 2019
Abstract
Wheat yields are predicted to decrease over the next decades due to climate change (CC). Mediterranean regions are characterized by low soil fertility and stressful conditions that limit the effect of technological improvements on increasing yield gains, while worsening the negative CC impacts. [...] Read more.
Wheat yields are predicted to decrease over the next decades due to climate change (CC). Mediterranean regions are characterized by low soil fertility and stressful conditions that limit the effect of technological improvements on increasing yield gains, while worsening the negative CC impacts. Additionally, organic farming (OF) lacks specifically adapted genetic material. Accordingly, there is a need to search for varieties adapted to these conditions and whose cultivation may help semi-arid agroecosystems sustainability, focusing on specific agronomic and functional traits. To this purpose, wheat landraces and modern wheat varieties were evaluated under Mediterranean rainfed conditions during three growing seasons under contrasting situations: A conventional farm and an organic farm. Results regarding straw production, weed biomass and biodiversity, and grain N concentration suggest that the cultivation of landraces under Mediterranean rainfed conditions can enhance agroecosystem sustainability through positive effects on ecosystem services such as soil quality, functional biodiversity, or grain protein content, without significant reductions in grain yield. Results highlight the relevant role of wheat landraces as genetic resources for the development of cultivars adapted to Mediterranean agroecosystems conditions, especially for organic farming, but also for conventional agriculture. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Genetic Resources for Sustainable Agriculture)
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Open AccessArticle
In situ Conservation Assessment of Forage and Fodder CWR in Spain Using Phytosociological Associations
Sustainability 2019, 11(21), 5882; https://doi.org/10.3390/su11215882 - 23 Oct 2019
Abstract
Crop wild relatives (CWR) can be used to mitigate the negative effects of climate change on crops, but their genetic diversity conservation has not been properly addressed. We propose a new target unit for conservation (Asso-EcoU) based on the occurrence of phytosociological associations [...] Read more.
Crop wild relatives (CWR) can be used to mitigate the negative effects of climate change on crops, but their genetic diversity conservation has not been properly addressed. We propose a new target unit for conservation (Asso-EcoU) based on the occurrence of phytosociological associations in different environments. This approach involves using ecogeographical information and distribution data of associations to identify an optimized set of locations for in situ genetic diversity conservation. Thirty-nine CWR species, grouped in 15 associations, generated 165 Asso-EcoUs. Using the Sites of Community Importance (SCI) of Natura 2000 in Spain, we performed three analyses: (1) gap analysis, (2) coverage of the network, and (3) complementarity analysis. Analyses were performed with both target conservation units, associations, or Asso-EcoUs. The SCI network includes 100% of the associations and 69% of the Asso-EcoUs. The coverage assessment showed that 8.8% of the network is enough to encompass all the networks’ target conservation units. Complementarity analysis showed that seven and 52 SCI areas are needed to contain at least one site of the 15 associations and the 114 Asso-EcoUs, respectively. These results highlight the value of Asso-EcoUs to potentially incorporate the genetic diversity component into conservation plans, while increasing the number of species covered. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Genetic Resources for Sustainable Agriculture)
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Open AccessArticle
Genetic Diversity and Population Divergence of a Rare, Endemic Grass (Elymus breviaristatus) in the Southeastern Qinghai-Tibetan Plateau
Sustainability 2019, 11(20), 5863; https://doi.org/10.3390/su11205863 - 22 Oct 2019
Abstract
Elymus breviaristatus is a grass species only distributed in the southeast of Qinghai-Tibetan Plateau (QTP), which has suffered from serious habitat fragmentation. Therefore, understanding patterns of genetic diversity within and among natural E. breviaristatus populations could provide insight for future conservation strategies. In [...] Read more.
Elymus breviaristatus is a grass species only distributed in the southeast of Qinghai-Tibetan Plateau (QTP), which has suffered from serious habitat fragmentation. Therefore, understanding patterns of genetic diversity within and among natural E. breviaristatus populations could provide insight for future conservation strategies. In this study, sequence-related amplified polymorphism markers were employed to investigate the genetic diversity and hierarchical structure of seven E. breviaristatus populations from QTP, China. Multiple measures of genetic diversity indicated that there is low to moderate genetic variation within E. breviaristatus populations, consistent with its presumed mating system. In spite of its rarity, E. breviaristatus presented high genetic diversity that was equivalent to or even higher than that of widespread species. Bayesian clustering approaches, along with clustering analysis and principal coordinate analysis partitioned the studied populations of E. breviaristatus into five genetic clusters. Differentiation coefficients (Fst, GST, etc.) and AMOVA analysis revealed considerable genetic divergence among different populations. BARRIER analyses indicated that there were two potential barriers to gene flow among the E. breviaristatus populations. Despite these patterns of differentiation, genetic distances between populations were independent of geographic distances (r = 0.2197, p = 0.2534), indicating little isolation by distance. Moreover, despite detecting a common outlier by two methods, bioclimatic factors (altitude, annual mean temperature, and annual mean precipitation) were not related to diversity parameters, indicating little evidence for isolation caused by the environment. These patterns of diversity within and between populations are used to propose a conservation strategy for E. breviaristatus. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Genetic Resources for Sustainable Agriculture)
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Open AccessArticle
In-Depth Characterisation of Common Bean Diversity Discloses Its Breeding Potential for Sustainable Agriculture
Sustainability 2019, 11(19), 5443; https://doi.org/10.3390/su11195443 - 01 Oct 2019
Abstract
Legumes’ cultivation contributes services to agro-ecosystems and society, in line with the principles of sustainability. Among pulses, the common bean is one of the most important sources of plant proteins and other important nutrients for humans. Extensive phenotypic and genetic characterisations of unexplored [...] Read more.
Legumes’ cultivation contributes services to agro-ecosystems and society, in line with the principles of sustainability. Among pulses, the common bean is one of the most important sources of plant proteins and other important nutrients for humans. Extensive phenotypic and genetic characterisations of unexplored bean germplasm are still needed to unlock its breeding potential. To the purpose, a panel of 192 diverse genotypes, mainly developed starting from European landrace accessions, was characterised for relevant morpho-phenological traits; a partially replicated experimental design was used. For each quantitative trait, Best Linear Unbiased Predictors and broad-sense heritability were estimated. The screened panel revealed a high level of diversity for most of the measured traits, especially for days to flowering and hundred-seed weight. The same material was also characterised by means of double-digest Restriction-site Associated DNA; a high number of SNP markers were successfully produced. The genotyping allowed understanding the fine genetic structure of the panel. Genetic information was also used to study morpho-phenological traits considering different genetic groups existing within the panel. At the same time, genotypes characterised by favourable traits were identified. The availability of such collection with its extensive characterisation, make this material an excellent resource for common bean improvement. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Genetic Resources for Sustainable Agriculture)
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Open AccessArticle
Genetic Diversity and Structure of the Portuguese Pear (Pyrus communis L.) Germplasm
Sustainability 2019, 11(19), 5340; https://doi.org/10.3390/su11195340 - 27 Sep 2019
Abstract
A rich heritage of traditional pear varieties is kept in national Portuguese collections. Out of these varieties, “Rocha” dominates national pear production. Although a noticeable phenotypic variation among clones of this variety has been reported, little is known about its genetic variability, as [...] Read more.
A rich heritage of traditional pear varieties is kept in national Portuguese collections. Out of these varieties, “Rocha” dominates national pear production. Although a noticeable phenotypic variation among clones of this variety has been reported, little is known about its genetic variability, as to date molecular studies have been performed on a single “Rocha” clone. Eleven Simple Sequence Repeats (SSR) markers were used to assess the genetic diversity of 130 local cultivars, 80 of them being “Rocha” clones. The results allowed the differentiation of 75 genotypes of which 29 are “Rocha”. Three synonyms groups and four homonymous groups of other local varieties were confirmed. A Bayesian model-based clustering approach identified two distinct clusters. Using flow cytometry, six cultivars were found to be triploids. These results show high genetic variability among “Rocha” clones. In conclusion, there is a need for different “Rocha” clones to be preserved to enable the correct selection of the multiplication material. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Genetic Resources for Sustainable Agriculture)
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Open AccessArticle
Higher Effectiveness of New Common Bean (Phaseolus vulgaris L.) Germplasm Acquisition by Collecting Expeditions Associated with Molecular Analyses
Sustainability 2019, 11(19), 5270; https://doi.org/10.3390/su11195270 - 25 Sep 2019
Abstract
A remarkable portion of crop genetic diversity is represented by landraces and obsolete cultivars, that have not yet been integrated into the collections of genetic resources in genebanks. Fortunately, they are still maintained by small farmers in rural areas. Their acquisition is an [...] Read more.
A remarkable portion of crop genetic diversity is represented by landraces and obsolete cultivars, that have not yet been integrated into the collections of genetic resources in genebanks. Fortunately, they are still maintained by small farmers in rural areas. Their acquisition is an important goal for collecting expeditions, followed by the evaluation of their genetic background. Molecular markers are powerful tools to evaluate the effectiveness of acquisition of new genetic variants. This approach was used for common bean landraces, that were collected through expeditions in the Slovak and Ukrainian Carpathians. In this study, microsatellite markers, developed from expressed sequence tags, were used for genotyping the collected materials. The sub-population of collected landraces contained higher total and average number of different alleles in comparison to equally large sub-populations of already-maintained cultivars. The same was true for the Shannon’s information index, observed heterozygosity, and expected heterozygosity. Both sub-populations showed the presence of private alleles: Average values of 0.500 and 0.833 private alleles per genotype were detected in landraces, and cultivars, respectively. Obtained results emphasized the importance of collecting expeditions to specific regions where landraces are cultivated, even at the present time. The effectiveness of the acquisition of new genetic variability can be determined by molecular tools, as confirmed by microsatellite markers in this study. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Genetic Resources for Sustainable Agriculture)
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Open AccessArticle
Yield and Quality Performance of Traditional and Improved Bread and Durum Wheat Varieties under Two Conservation Tillage Systems
Sustainability 2019, 11(17), 4522; https://doi.org/10.3390/su11174522 - 21 Aug 2019
Cited by 2
Abstract
The increasing spread of conservation agriculture demands that the next generation of wheat varieties includes cultivars capable of maintaining satisfactory yields with lower inputs and under uncertain climate scenarios. On the basis of the genetic gains achieved during decades of selection oriented to [...] Read more.
The increasing spread of conservation agriculture demands that the next generation of wheat varieties includes cultivars capable of maintaining satisfactory yields with lower inputs and under uncertain climate scenarios. On the basis of the genetic gains achieved during decades of selection oriented to yield improvements under conventional crop management, it is important that novel breeding targets are defined and addressed. Grain yield, yield-related traits, and phenological and morphological characteristics, as well as functional quality parameters have been analyzed for six varieties each of bread and durum wheat, under minimum tillage and no-tillage. During the three-year experiment, the climatic conditions at the field trial site were characterized by low rainfall, although different degrees of aridity—from moderate to severe—were experienced. Differences were found between these two soil management practices in regard to the varieties’ yield stability. A positive influence of no-tillage on traits related to grain and biomass yield was also evidenced, and some traits among the examined seemed involved in varietal adaptation to a particular non-conventional tillage system. The study also confirmed some breeding targets for improved performance of wheat genotypes in conservation agroecosystems. These traits were represented in the small set of traditional varieties analysed. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Genetic Resources for Sustainable Agriculture)
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Open AccessArticle
Network Analysis of Seed Flow, a Traditional Method for Conserving Tartary Buckwheat (Fagopyrum tataricum) Landraces in Liangshan, Southwest China
Sustainability 2019, 11(16), 4263; https://doi.org/10.3390/su11164263 - 07 Aug 2019
Abstract
The Yi ethnic group in Liangshan Prefecture, Sichuan Province in Southwest China have cultivated Tartary buckwheat (Fagopyrum tataricum) for at least a thousand years. Tartary buckwheat landraces are maintained through their traditional seed system. Field work and social network methodologies were [...] Read more.
The Yi ethnic group in Liangshan Prefecture, Sichuan Province in Southwest China have cultivated Tartary buckwheat (Fagopyrum tataricum) for at least a thousand years. Tartary buckwheat landraces are maintained through their traditional seed system. Field work and social network methodologies were used to analyze the seed sources and their flows, and to create a seed network map. Self-saving, exchanging with neighbors and relatives, and purchasing from the market were the main means farmers used to save and exchange Tartary buckwheat seeds. The flow of seed within villages was higher than between villages. Wedding dowry was an important pathway for seed flow among all of the villages. Of the 13 Tartary buckwheat landraces maintained, four landraces were exchanged frequently. The seed exchange network structure was affected by the number of Tartary buckwheat landraces, the age of nodal households, geographic environment, culture, and cultural groups. Nodal households play an important role in the conservation and on-farm management of Tartary buckwheat landraces. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Genetic Resources for Sustainable Agriculture)
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Open AccessArticle
Molecular and Phenotypic Diversity of Traditional European Plum (Prunus domestica L.) Germplasm of Southern Italy
Sustainability 2019, 11(15), 4112; https://doi.org/10.3390/su11154112 - 30 Jul 2019
Cited by 1
Abstract
The European plum (Prunus domestica L.) is a worldwide distributed tree species. Italy has an ample number of traditional varieties, but many are neglected and at risk of extinction. This germplasm is still cultivated in rural areas in spite of the EU-28 [...] Read more.
The European plum (Prunus domestica L.) is a worldwide distributed tree species. Italy has an ample number of traditional varieties, but many are neglected and at risk of extinction. This germplasm is still cultivated in rural areas in spite of the EU-28 crisis of the stone fruit sector. Traditional European plum varieties remain poorly characterized, strongly limiting their promotion in local markets, use for farm diversification, and exploitation for local gastronomic products. In this study, we carried out an investigation of the morphological and genetic diversity present in an ex-situ collection of 29 traditional varieties of P. domestica of the Campania region (Southern Italy). The combination of five continuous and five categorical fruit traits allowed us to phenotypically distinguish all the varieties. Similarly, the Simple Sequence Repeats (SSRs) employed (five genomic and five deriving from Expressed Sequence Tags) identified a unique molecular profile for each variety. Moreover, the data indicated that the phenotypic and molecular investigations provided different clustering, suggesting that the two analyses sampled different sources of diversity. The number and the distribution of the scored phenotypes as well as the indices of genetic diversity imply the presence of a wide-ranging variation, which may sustain the development of high-value, niche market products. Our work provided evidence that the implementation of measures for a combination of ex-situ and on-farm conservation of traditional European plum varieties should be preferred to avoid the loss of an ample diversity. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Genetic Resources for Sustainable Agriculture)
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Open AccessReview
Embedding Cultivated Diversity in Society for Agro-Ecological Transition
Sustainability 2020, 12(3), 784; https://doi.org/10.3390/su12030784 (registering DOI) - 21 Jan 2020
Abstract
Agroecology calls for a global approach, integrating scientific, practical, and advocacy dimensions, to redesign agricultural systems based on ecological and socio-cultural processes and emphasizing biodiversity. This review is grounded on the results of DIVERSIFOOD, a European H2020 multi-actor research project, and explores the [...] Read more.
Agroecology calls for a global approach, integrating scientific, practical, and advocacy dimensions, to redesign agricultural systems based on ecological and socio-cultural processes and emphasizing biodiversity. This review is grounded on the results of DIVERSIFOOD, a European H2020 multi-actor research project, and explores the concept of cultivated diversity using various dimensions relevant to foster sustainable organic food systems and agro-ecological transition. From the evaluation of underutilized genetic resources and forgotten crops, DIVERSIFOOD has proposed plant breeding strategies, on-farm experimentation, and statistical tools to create new populations, landraces, and organic cultivars with intra-varietal diversity. The added value of Community Seed Banks and forms of collective seed management in Europe have been described in terms of goals and activities, and their value for improving seed regulations, treaties, and genetic resources management is discussed. In the context of the current agro-food system characterized by standardization, DIVERSIFOOD raised awareness of qualities of ‘biodiverse food systems’ in which all actors have a role to play. It highlighted the critical capacity to preserve a diversity of cultural values embodied in ‘biodiverse products’, thereby involving consumers in collective strategies for reviving diversity, and empowering all actors of organic food systems to really and efficiently implement research within their farms and networks. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Genetic Resources for Sustainable Agriculture)
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