Exploring on-farm agro-biodiversity: a study case of vegetable landraces from Puglia region (Italy)

  • Giulia ConversaEmail author
  • Corrado Lazzizera
  • Anna Bonasia
  • Salvatore Cifarelli
  • Francesco Losavio
  • Gabriella Sonnante
  • Antonio Elia
Original Paper


This paper reports the results of a survey carried out in the Foggia province (Puglia Region, Italy) with the aims of: (1) assessing the level of diversity and distribution of the on-farm vegetable landraces, (2) identifying vegetable landrace-rich areas, and (3) analysing the main agro-ecological, socio-economic factors affecting their maintenance. Several territorial surveys were performed over four years and a total of 163 vegetable crop landraces were found at 52 sites, mostly cultivated on small farms or home gardens by elderly farmers. The surveyed landraces belong to nine botanical families and 34 species, with the highest number for Solanaceae, Cucurbitaceae, Brassicaceae, Liliaceae and Leguminosae. The diversity status of the landraces was evaluated by adopting a landscape scale approach considering the provincial landscape types (LT) (3) and, within each LT, the landscape units (LU) accounting for the incidence of high-productive and marginal agricultural systems and of natural/seminatural systems. Principal component analysis clearly separated one landscape unit for each LT for their higher abundance of landraces and higher diversity, richness and evenness of species. These LUs are characterized by high-ecological and agricultural marginal land where the low fertility of soil seems conducive to landraces maintenance. Additionally, the preservation of vegetable diversity may be linked to the distance of the surveyed sites from the most important urban centres along with the commitment of local people and/or tourists to traditional products and their related cultural aspects.


Vegetable germplasm Landraces survey Diversity indices Agro-ecological zones Farmer maintainers 



The authors are grateful to Paolo La Rotonda for its valuable help in the collection of landraces and to all the growers who kindly donated the propagation material of their landraces. The authors thank Serena Scorrano from Puglia Region for providing the digital maps of the territory. This research was funded by the project BiodiverSO–PSR Puglia Region 2007–2013, Mis. 214/4 subaz. a) and by the project BiodiverSO–PSR Puglia 2014–2020 Mis.10.2.

Supplementary material

10531_2019_1908_MOESM1_ESM.docx (16 kb)
Supplementary material 1 (DOCX 16 kb)
10531_2019_1908_MOESM2_ESM.pdf (558 kb)
Supplementary material 2 (PDF 558 kb)
10531_2019_1908_MOESM3_ESM.pdf (548 kb)
Supplementary material 3 (PDF 549 kb)
10531_2019_1908_MOESM4_ESM.pdf (952 kb)
Supplementary material 4 (PDF 953 kb)
10531_2019_1908_MOESM5_ESM.pdf (848 kb)
Supplementary material 5 (PDF 849 kb)
10531_2019_1908_MOESM6_ESM.pdf (530 kb)
Supplementary material 6 (PDF 530 kb)
10531_2019_1908_MOESM7_ESM.pdf (338 kb)
Supplementary material 7 (PDF 339 kb)


  1. Accogli R, Conversa G, Ricciardi L, Sonnante G, Santamaria P (2018) Nuovo Almanacco BiodiverSO. Biodiversità delle specie orticole della Puglia. Università degli Studi di Bari Aldo Moro, Bari, p 371. ISBN 978-88-6629-024-7Google Scholar
  2. Agnoletti M, Rotherham ID (2015) Landscape and biocultural diversity. Biodivers Conserv 24:3155–3165. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Bellon MR, van Etten J (2014) Climate change and on-farm conservation of crop landraces in centres of diversity. In: Jackson M, Ford-Lloyd B, Parry ML (eds) Plant genetic resources and climate change. CAB International, Wallingford, pp 137–150Google Scholar
  4. Bianco VV, Calabrese N (2007) Il carciofo in Puglia in ‘Il carciofo ed il cardo’. Coltura & Cultura, pp 94–109.
  5. Buia G, Antonucci M (2015) The Rural Development Programme (RDP) as a strategic tool for linking legal and agroecological perspectives. In: Monteduro M, Buongiorno P, Di Benedetto S, Isoni A (eds) Law and agroecology: a transdisciplinary dialogue. Springer, Berlin, pp 151–182. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Ceccarelli S (2012) Landraces: importance and use in breeding and environmentally friendly agronomic systems. In: Maxted N, Dulloo ME, Ford-Lloyd BV, Frese L, Iriondo JM, Pinheiro de Carvalho MAA (eds) Agrobiodiversity conservation: securing the diversity of crop wild relatives and landraces. CAB International, Wallingford, pp 103–117CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Elia A, Santamaria P (2013) Biodiversity in vegetable crops, a heritage to save: the case of the Puglia Region. Ital J Agron 8(1):21–34Google Scholar
  8. FAO (2009) International treaty on plant genetic resources for food and agriculture. Accessed 30 Mar 2019
  9. FAO (2017) Landscapes for life—approaches to landscape management for sustainable food and agriculture.
  10. Figliuolo G, Cerbino D (2014) Agro-biodiversity spatial assessment and genetic reserve delineation for the Pollino National Park (Italy). Nat Resour 5:308–321. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Frison EA, Cherfas J, Hodgkin T (2011) Agricultural biodiversity is essential for a sustainable improvement in food and nutrition security. Sustainability 3:238–253. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Galluzzi G, Eyzaguirre P, Negri V (2010) Home gardens: neglected hotspots of agro-biodiversity and cultural diversity. Biodivers Conserv 19:3635–3654. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Gatto A, De Paola D, De Bagnoli F, Vendramin GG, Sonnante G (2013) Population structure of Cynara cardunculus complex and the origin of the conspecific crops artichoke and cardoon. Ann Bot 112:855–865. CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  14. Gorini F (1966) La coltivazione della carota. Edagricole Bologna EAN, Bologna, p 53. ISBN: 88-206-0727-1Google Scholar
  15. Hammer K, Perrino P (1995) Plant genetic resources in south Italy and Sicily—studies towards in situ and on-farm conservation. Plant Genet Res Newsl 103:19–23Google Scholar
  16. Hammer Ø, Harper DAT, Ryan PD (2001) PAST: paleontological statistics software package for education and data analysis. Palaeontol Electron 4(1):1–9Google Scholar
  17. Hammer K, Montesano V, Direnzo P, Laghetti G (2018) Conservation of crop genetic resources in Italy with a focus on vegetables and a case study of a neglected race of Brassica oleracea. Agriculture 8:105. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Ingrassia GF (1576) Informatione del pestifero, et contagioso morbo: il quale affligge et haue afflitto questa citta di Palermo, & molte altre citta, e terre di questo Regno di Sicilia. Appresso Giouan Mattheo Mayda, PalermoGoogle Scholar
  19. ISTAT (2011) 15° Censimento generale della popolazione e delle abitazioni. In Italian National Statistical Institute (ISTAT), Rome. Accessed 16 Jan 2019
  20. Jackson LE, Pascual U, Hodgkin T (2007) Utilizing and conserving agrobiodiversity in agricultural landscapes. Agric Ecosyst Environ 121:196–210. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Kell SP, Knüpffer H, Jury SL, Ford-Lloyd BV, Maxted N (2008) Crops and wild relatives of the Euro-Mediterranean region: making and using a conservation catalogue. In: Maxted N, Ford-Lloyd BV, Kell SP, Iriondo J, Dulloo E, Turok J (eds) Crop wild relative conservation and use. CAB International, Wallingford, pp 69–109Google Scholar
  22. Kell SP, Maxted N, Bilz M (2012) European crop wild relatives threat assessment: knowledge gained and lesson learnt. In: Maxted N, Dulloo ME, Ford-Lloyd BV, Frese L, Iriondo JM, Pinheiro de Carvalho MAA (eds) Agrobiodiversity conservation: securing the diversity of crop wild relatives and landraces. CAB International, Wallingford, pp 218–242CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Klingebiel AA, Montgomery PH (1961) Land capability classification. Agriculture handbook No. 210. Soil Conservation Service, U.S. Department of Agriculture, Washington, DC, pp 6–11Google Scholar
  24. Laghetti G, Ghiglione G, De Lisi A, Maruca G, Losavio F, Pignone D (2013) Survey for the conservation of agrobiodiversity in three Italian linguistic (Occitan, Croatian and Franco-Provençal) Islands. J Biol Life Sci 4(1):80–114. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Laghetti G, Bisignano V, Urbano M (2018) Genetic resources of vegetable crops and their safeguarding in Italy. Hortic Int J 2(3):72–74Google Scholar
  26. Lioi L, Zuluaga DL, Pavan S, Sonnante G (2019) Genotyping-by-sequencing reveals molecular genetic diversity in Italian common bean landraces. Sci Hortic 11(9):154CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Mazzeo R, Morgese A, Sonnante G, Zuluaga DL, Pavan S, Ricciardi L, Lotti C (2019) Genetic diversity in broccoli rabe (Brassica rapa L. subsp. sylvestris (L.) Janch.) from southern Italy. Sci Hortic 253:140–146. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Montesano V, Negro D, Sarli G, Logozzo G, Spagnoletti Zeuli P (2012) Landraces in inland areas of the Basilicata region, Italy: monitoring and perspectives for on farm conservation. Genet Resour Crop Evol 59:701–716. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Nardella T (1978) Lo sviluppo economico e industriale della Capitanata dal 1815 al 1852. Lucera, Catapano, p 77Google Scholar
  30. Negri V (2003) Landraces in central Italy: where and why they are conserved and perspectives for their on farm conservation. Genet Resour Crop Evol 50:871–885. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Negri V (2005) Agro-biodiversity conservation in Europe: ethical issues. J Agric Environ Ethiop 18(1):3–25. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Negri V, Branca F, Castellini G (2008) Integrating wild plants and landrace conservation in farming systems: a perspective from Italy. In: Maxted N, Ford-Lloyd BV, Kell SP, Iriondo J, Dulloo E, Turok J (eds) Crop wild relative conservation and use. CAB International, Wallingford, pp 392–402Google Scholar
  33. Negri V, Maxted N, Veteläinen M (2009) European Landrace Conservation: an Introduction. In: Veteläinen M, Negri V, Maxted N (eds) European landraces: on-farm conservation management and use. Bioversity Technical Bulletin No. 15. Bioversity International, Rome, pp 1–22Google Scholar
  34. Pacicco L, Bodesmo M, Torricelli R, Negri V (2018) A methodological approach to identify agro-biodiversity hotspots for priority in situ conservation of plant genetic resources. PLoS ONE 13(6):e0197709. CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  35. Pavan S, Curci PL, Zuluaga DL, Blanco E, Sonnante G (2018) Genotyping-by-sequencing highlights patterns of genetic structure and domestication in artichoke and cardoon. PLoS ONE 13:e0205988. CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  36. Porter JR, Xie L, Challinor AJ, Cochrane K, Howden SM, Iqbal MM, Lobell DB, Travasso MI (2014) Food security and food production systems. In: Field CB, Barros VR, Dokken DJ, Mach KJ, Mastrandrea MD, Bilir TE, Chatterjee M, Ebi KL, Estrada YO, Genova RC, Girma B, Kissel ES, Levy AN, MacCracken S, Mastrandrea PR, White LL (eds) Climate change 2014: impacts, adaptation, and vulnerability. Part A: global and sectoral aspects. Contribution of Working Group II to the Fifth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, pp 485–533Google Scholar
  37. SAS Institute (1999) SAS version 8.02. SAS Institute Inc., CaryGoogle Scholar
  38. Shahid SA, Al-Shankiti A (2013) Sustainable food production in marginal lands—case of GDLA member countries. J Soil Water Conserv 1(1):24–38. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Torricelli R, Pacicco L, Bodesmo M, Raggi R, Negri V (2016) Assessment of Italian landrace density and species richness: useful criteria for developing in situ conservation strategies. In: Maxted N, Dulloo ME, Ford-Lloyd BV (eds) Enhancing crop genepool use: capturing wild relative and landrace diversity for crop improvement. CAB Publishing, Wallingford, pp 326–331CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Veteläinen M, Negri V, Maxted N (2009) A European strategic approach to conserving crop landraces. In: Veteläinen M, Negri V, Maxted N (eds) European landraces: on-farm conservation management and use. Bioversity Technical Bulletin No. 15. Bioversity International, Rome, pp 305–325Google Scholar
  41. Wittman H, Chappell M, Abson D, Bezner Kerr R, Blesh J, Hanspach J, Perfecto I, Fischer J (2017) A social–ecological perspective on harmonizing food security and biodiversity conservation. Reg Environ Change 17:1291. CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Nature B.V. 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of the Science of Agriculture, Food and Environment (SAFE)University of FoggiaFoggiaItaly
  2. 2.Institute of Biosciences and BioresourcesNational Research CouncilBariItaly

Personalised recommendations