• Stampa

 The CWR project

Crop wild relatives are the wild ‘cousins’ of our cultivated crops. In the same way that the wolf is related to the dog, CWRs are related to our food plants. Crop wild relatives possess many valuable traits that are fairly easily identifiable, such as resistance to pests and diseases, salinity tolerance, and drought tolerance. However, scientists have also discovered valuable genetic diversity in crop wild relatives that is not only hidden, but also somewhat unexpected.

The project Adapting Agriculture to Climate Change: “Collecting, Protecting and Preparing Crop Wild Relatives” aims to collect important species of crop wild relatives, ensure their long-term conservation, and facilitate their use in breeding new, improved crops. 

This 10-year project was launched in 2011 with US$50 million in funding from the Government of Norway. Managed by the Crop Trust with the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, the Project is implemented in partnership with national and international genebanks and plant breeding programs around the world.

Project activities

The project includes four main components: the prioritization of crop wild relatives based on a gap analysis, the collection of CWR in the field, CWR conservation in genebanks, and the use of CWR in pre-breeding efforts to prepare them for crop breeders.

Project activities are:

Project Crops

The project focuses on collecting the wild relatives of 29 priority crops. These have been selected based on their importance and occurrence on Annex 1 of the International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture

Project Partners

 Collecting agreements have been signed with 24 countries. Use projects (pre-breeding and evaluation) involve almost 100 national and international partners in 43 countries.

The Project’s collecting efforts in Italy are being coordinated by the Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences of the University of Pavia (UNIPV-DSTA). Collectors from the University of Pavia will target crop wild relatives from eight wild genepools: alfalfa, barley, bread wheat, carrot, grasspea, oat, pea, and vetch. Collecting will take place during the project period of 2013-2015.