A problem of the rich: Prioritizing local plant genetic resources for ex situ conservation in Israel

A priority list of 323 plant species was created through a consultative process for ex situ conservation in the recently inaugurated Israel Plant Gene Bank (IGB). The IGB is set up to preserve plant genetic resources and the endangered genetic variability of the Israeli flora. Upon its inauguration, we consulted with the country’s leading plant breeders and botanists in an attempt to create a list of the most important plant species to be included in the initial collections. The list includes crop wild relatives (CWRs), selected according to their contribution to humans: edible plants (grains, vegetables, oil); forage plants; species with potential industrial and biotechnological applications (e.g. spices, medicinal plants, aromatic plants, fibers, dyes), and species with horticultural and forestry potential. We further ranked the species on the basis of assessed values for each of seven characteristics: distribution range in the country; abundance; rarity of the growing habitats; endemism; red number index—representing imminent threat of extinction; availability of samples in Israeli collections, and genetic relationship to cultivated crops. The sum of the assessed values for these seven characteristics was used to group the species on the list into four main prioritized-collection schemes. Statistical analysis indicated that all attributes had similar influence on the collecting prioritization scheme. In general, rare species with low abundance in their growing habitats were ranked in the highest priority group, while highly distributed species were sorted together into a lower priority group. The prioritization scheme will be used to optimize the collection in the IGB with the aim of establishing its collecting activities.
Category: Conservation
Authors: Barazani, O., et al.
Journal/Series: Biological Conservation
Publication Year: 2008

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