Plant Genetic Resources

Authored by: Robert Henry

Routledge Handbook of Agricultural Biodiversity

Print publication date:  October  2017
Online publication date:  October  2017

Print ISBN: 9780415746922
eBook ISBN: 9781315797359
Adobe ISBN:


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Plant biodiversity provides the genetic resource base for agriculture, underpinning crop and pasture selection and breeding. Molecular tools have improved understanding of the relationships between plants and provided insights into their potential use in agriculture. Agriculture utilizes a diverse group of plant species, but we rely heavily on a very small number of species for the bulk of our food. Crop wild relatives represent key genetic resources for food and agriculture. Advancing technologies allows access to genes from more diverse plants and facilitates the domestication of new species for agriculture. Plant genetic resources are found in farmers’ fields, gene and seed banks and wild populations, and conservation in situ and ex situ is essential for agricultural sustainability. Productivity gains required to satisfy the growth in food demand will rely on utilization of these resources. Changing global food consumption patterns may influence the utilization of plant genetic resources. Diversification of diet with new crop options may be desirable to ensure food security and address trends towards homogenization of diets globally. Plant genetic resources may also hold the key to sources of genetic variation that can contribute to supporting healthier human populations and provide essential options in adapting agriculture to climate change.

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