Biodiversity & Conservation

, Volume 15, Issue 8, pp 2673–2685 | Cite as

Towards a definition of a crop wild relative

  • Nigel MaxtedEmail author
  • Brian V. Ford-Lloyd
  • Stephen Jury
  • Shelagh Kell
  • Maria Scholten


Crop wild relatives are an important socio-economic resource that is currently being eroded or even extinguished through careless human activities. If the Conference of the Parties (COP) to the CBD 2010 Biodiversity Target of achieving a significant reduction in the current rate of loss is to be achieved, we must first define what crop wild relatives are and how their conservation might be prioritised. A definition of a crop wild relative is proposed and illustrated in the light of previous Gene Pool concept theory. Where crossing and genetic diversity information is unavailable, the Taxon Group concept is introduced to assist recognition of the degree of crop wild relative relatedness by using the existing taxonomic hierarchy.


Crop wild relative Definition Gene pools Plant genetic resources Taxon groups 



Convention on Biological Diversity


Conference of the Parties to the CBD


Crop wild relative


Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations


Genetic modification


Gene pool


Plant genetic resources


Taxon group


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. Convention on Biological Diversity (1992). Convention on Biological Diversity: Text and Annexes. Secretariat of the Convention on Biological Diversity, Montreal, 1–34Google Scholar
  2. Devos K. and Gale M. (1997). Comparative genetics in the grasses. Plant Molecular Biology 35: 3–15PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Enneking D. and Maxted N. (1995). Narbon bean: Vicia narbonensis L. (Leguminosae). In: Smartt, J. and Simmonds, N.W. (eds) Evolution of crop plants, 2nd edn, pp 316–321. Longman Group, Harlow EssexGoogle Scholar
  4. FAO (1998). The State of the World=s Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture. FAO, RomeGoogle Scholar
  5. FAO (2001). International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture. FAO, RomeGoogle Scholar
  6. Flint M. (1991). Biological Diversity and Developing Countries: Issues and Options. Overseas Development Administration, LondonGoogle Scholar
  7. Ford-Lloyd B.V. (2005). Biancardi, E., de Biaggi, M., Campbell, L.G. and Skaracis, G.N. (eds) Genetics and Breeding of Sugar Beet, pp. Science Publishers Inc, Enfield, USAGoogle Scholar
  8. Groombridge B. and Jenkins M. (2002). World atlas of biodiversity. In: (eds) Prepared by the UNEP World Conservation Monitoring Centre, pp. University of California Press, Berkeley, USAGoogle Scholar
  9. Harlan J. and de Wet J. (1971). Towards a rational classification of cultivated plants. Taxon 20: 509–517CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Harlan J. (1992). Crops and Man. American Society of Agronomy, MadisonGoogle Scholar
  11. Hawkes J. (1991). International workshop on dynamic in situ conservation of wild relatives of major cultivated plants: summary of final discussion and recommendations. Israel Journal of Botany 40: 529–536Google Scholar
  12. Heywood V. (1994). The measurement of biodiversity and the politics of implementation. In: Forey, P., Humphries, C. and Vane-Wright, R. (eds) Systematics and Conservation Evaluation, pp 15–22. Systematic Association Special Volume 50. Oxford University Press, OxfordGoogle Scholar
  13. Heywood V. and Zohary D. (1995). A catalogue of the wild relatives of cultivated plants native to Europe. Flora Mediterranea 5: 375–415Google Scholar
  14. Johnson N. (1995). Biodiversity in the balance: approaches to setting geographic conservation priorities. Biodiversity Support Program, Washington, D.C.Google Scholar
  15. Kell S. and Maxted N. 2003. (compilers). Report of Workshop 1. European Crop Wild Relative Diversity Assessment and Conservation Forum – PGR Forum. Scholar
  16. Maxted N. (1993). A phenetic investigation of Vicia L. subgenus Vicia (Leguminosae, Vicieae). Botanical Journal of the Linnean Society 111: 155–182CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Maxted N., Ford-Lloyd B. and Hawkes J. (1997a). Plant Genetic Conservation: the In situ Approach. Chapman & Hall, London, 1–451Google Scholar
  18. Maxted N., Hawkes J., Guarino L. and Sawkins M. (1997b). The selection of taxa for plant genetic conservation. Genetic Resources and Crop Evolution 44: 337–348CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Maxted N., Mabuza-Dlamini P., Moss H., Padulosi S., Jarvis A. and Guarino L. (2004). African Vigna: an Ecogeographic Study. International Plant Genetic Resources Institute, Rome, ItalyGoogle Scholar
  20. Meilleur B. and Hodgkin T. (2004). Biodiversity and Conservation 13: 663–684CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Mitteau M. and Soupizet F. 2000. Preparation of a preliminary list of priority target species for in situ conservation in Europe. In: Laliberté B., Maggioni L., Maxted N. and Negri V. (eds). (compilers). ECP/GR In situ and On-farm Conservation Network Report of a Task Force on Wild Species Conservation in Genetic Reserves and a Task Force on On-farm Conservation and Management Joint meeting, 18–20 May 2000. Isola PolveseItaly.Google Scholar
  22. Schlosser S., Reichhoff L. and Hanelt P. (1991). Wildpflanzen Mitteleuropas. Deutscher Landwirtschaftsverlag Berlin GmbH, Nutzung und SchutzGoogle Scholar
  23. N. Vavilov. 1920. The law of homologous series in variation. Proceedings of the III All-Russian plant breeding conference, Saratov, p. 16Google Scholar
  24. Vavilov N. (1922). The law of homologous series in variation. Journal of Genetics 12: 47–89CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Wilkinson M., Sweet J. and Poppy G. (2003). Risk assessment of GM plants: avoiding the gridlock. Trends in Plant Science 8: 208–212PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Zeven A. and Zhukovsky P. (1975). Dictionary of Cultivated Plants and Their Centres of Diversity. Excluding ornamentals, forest trees and lower plants. PUDOC, WageningenGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer 2006

Authors and Affiliations

  • Nigel Maxted
    • 1
    Email author
  • Brian V. Ford-Lloyd
    • 1
  • Stephen Jury
    • 2
  • Shelagh Kell
    • 1
  • Maria Scholten
    • 1
  1. 1.School of BiosciencesUniversity Of BirminghamEdgbastonUK
  2. 2.School of Plant SciencesThe University of ReadingWhiteknightsUK

Personalised recommendations