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Date: 6 December 2010

Crop wild relatives have been used innumerable times throughout the agricultural history to improve yields, increase disease and pest resistance, change fruit flavor and texture, etc. Not to mention the use of wild relatives of genera like Pyrus, Malus, Rubus, Mentha and so forth as a food, and in traditional medicine. Here are a few examples of how mankind has profited from wild relatives of some of our common crops:

  • In pepper breeding a gene from Capiscum chacoenes has been used as a resistance source against the tobamoviruses. 
  • Resistance in cultivated Pyrus or Malus varieties has been increased by engrafting on wild pear or apple trees (for example on Pyrus caucasica) more tolerant and resistant to abiotic and biotic stresses. 
  • Pest and disease resistance in common bean (Phaseolus vulgaris) have been increased with the help of genes from wild relatives of the common bean. 
  • Combining wild relatives of blueberries (Vaccinium) have made it possible to produce yields in both colder and warmer climate, increasing the total potential area of production.

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