Print this page

Publication Detail

The potentially devastating impacts of climate change on crop production and food security are now widely acknowledged. An important component of efforts to mitigate these impacts is the production of new varieties of crops which will be able to thrive in more extreme and changeable environmental conditions. There is therefore an urgent need to find new sources of genetic diversity for crop improvement. Wild plant species closely related to crops (crop wild relatives) contain vital sources of such genes, yet these resources themselves are threatened by the effects of climate change, as well as by a range of other human-induced pressures and socio-economic changes. The flora of China comprises more than 20,000 native higher plant species, a proportion of which have known or potential value as gene donors for crop improvement. However, until now, the full range of these valuable crop wild relative species had not been identified. In this paper we present a methodology for creating a checklist of, and prioritizing China’s crop wild relatives, and reveal that 871 native species are related to crops that are of particularly high socio-economic importance in China—including rice, wheat, soybean, potato, sweet potato, millet and yam—crops which are also of notably high value for food and economic security in other parts of the world. Within this list we have identified species that are in particular need of conservation assessment based on their relative Red List status and potential for use in crop improvement programs. Endemic species that have particularly high economic value potential in China and that are under severe threat of genetic erosion and thus in need of urgent conservation action include wild relatives of tea (Camellia fangchengensis S. Yun Liang et Y.C. Zhong and C. grandibracteata H.T. Chang et F.L. Yu), apple (e.g., Malus honanensis Rehder, M. ombrophila Hand.-Mazz. and M. toringoides (Rehder) Hughes), and pear (Pyrus pseudopashia T.T. Yu). We provide recommendations for developing a systematic and comprehensive national CWR conservation strategy for China, highlighting the challenges and requirements of taking the strategy forward to the implementation phase.
Category: Conservation
Authors: Kell, S., et al.
Journal/Series: Agriculture, Ecosystems & Environment
Publication Year: 2015

Related links

Web Address of the page:

Links in this page