, Volume 43, Issue 4, pp 329-336

Estimating genetic erosion in landraces — two case studies

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The results of collecting missions in Albania in 1941 and 1993 and in South Italy in 1950 and in the eighties allowed a comparison to be made of the material cultivated. The number of landraces still cultivated recently, as compared to their former number, was the basis for the estimation of genetic erosion. Genetic erosion (GE) was calculated as GE=100%-GI (Genetic integrity). Genetic erosion was found to be 72.4% in Albania and 72.8% in South Italy, respectively. These results prove the high degree of genetic erosion in landraces from different parts of the Mediterranean area. Apart from the economic conditions, several other factors are responsible for genetic erosion, among them breeding system, crop type (i.e., garden or field crop) and crop group (e.g., cereals, vegetables and pulses).

The results show that in the areas investigated there are still landraces for in situ conservation. Ex situ conservation in genebanks proved to be a possibility. An integration process is necessary to prevent losses in crops which are difficult to propagate under ex situ conditions. The complementarity of both conservation methods is stressed.