Crop wild relatives are plants closely related to crops that can provide useful traits through traditional crop breeding. Their evolution under natural conditions provides them with broad genetic diversity that can be used as source of adaptations (e.g. drought tolerance or disease resistance). On the other hand, landraces are cultivars maintained by farmers, that have evolved and adapted to local conditions and, thus, constitute a very important source of adaptation for modern cultivars.
The main objective of the Farmer’s Pride Project (www.farmerspride.eu) is to create a European network for the in situ conservation of plant genetic resources. It aims to promote the use of plant genetic resources among farmers, managers, conservationists and germplasm users, actively working for a sustainable agriculture and promoting economic and food security.
AdApta-Lab actively participates in all the workpackages of this project. In workpackage 1 – Network options – we are leading tasks related to the identification of crop wild relative populations and active conservation actions in Europe. In workpackage 2 – Population management – we are also leading the development of guidelines for the management of CWR populations in genetic reserves. In collaboration with our partners, we will take into account the monitoring and intervention of focal populations, the integration with existing management plans in protected areas, and potential cultural or biological conflicts, among others. In this same workpackage, we are also working on the development of informatic tools that will facilitate the management and use of plant genetic resources. In addition, we will be assessing the integration of in situ and ex situ conservation actions between protected areas and gene banks, fostering agreements among them. In workpackage 3 – Enabling use and conservation – we are identifying, thanks to predictive characterization analyses, European plant genetic resources populations or accessions with higher probabilities of having useful adaptations for crops. Finally, in workpackage 4 – Network design and implementation – we will work on the creation of a European network of genetic reserves of crop wild relatives. To that aim, we will make use of the results from the rest of workpackages and will use optimization techniques based on ecogeographic information, that will allow us to maximize the conservation of the potential genetic diversity of adaptive value held by crop wild relative populations in Europe.