Earlier this month, the CIAT Crop Wild Relative (CWR) team presented oral papers as part of the American Society of Agronomy (ASA), Crop Science Society of America (CSSA), and Soil Science Society of America (SSSA) International Annual Meetings, Nov. 3-6 in Tampa, Florida, USA.

Our first presentation reported on our research to gather and analyze data on the distributions of the wild relatives of 80 important food crops worldwide. After identifying hotspots of CWR diversity globally and comparing these against what has already been collected and preserved in gene banks, we generated a list of CWR taxa in critical need of future collection for conservation. The information generated is part of the ‘Adapting Agriculture to Climate Change: collecting, protecting, and preparing crop wild relatives’ project led by the Global Crop Diversity Trust in partnership with the Millennium Seed Bank at Kew.


We also presented on a recently completed inventory of CWR in the United States, as well as plans for protecting these plants both in gene banks and in the wild. Although North America isn’t known as a hotspot for crop plant diversity, the inventory uncovered nearly 4,600 CWR in the United States, including close relatives of globally important food crops such as sunflower, bean, sweet potato, and strawberry.

Presenting at the ASA, CSSA, and SSSA meetings was a great opportunity to meet and discuss our most recent results with colleagues from around the world. The presentations sparked questions about the next stages of the project and interest in future participation.

The Crop Science Society of America (CSSA), founded in 1955, is an international scientific society comprised of 6,000+ members with its headquarters in Madison, WI. Members advance the discipline of crop science by acquiring and disseminating information about crop breeding and genetics; crop physiology; crop ecology, management, and quality; seed physiology, production, and technology; turfgrass science; forage and grazinglands; genomics, molecular genetics, and biotechnology; and biomedical and enhanced plants.

CSSA Press Release: Protecting the weedy and wild kin of globally important crops

Blog post prepared by Vivian Bernau, Visiting Researcher (CIAT)

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