Genetic Resources and Crop Evolution

, Volume 44, Issue 4, pp 337–348 | Cite as

Towards the selection of taxa for plant genetic conservation

  • N. Maxted
  • J.G. Hawkes
  • L. Guarino
  • M. Sawkins


The signing and ratification of the Convention on Biological Diversity has resulted in increased scientific and public interest in the conservation and utilisation of biological diversity. This has in turn triggered the need to develop more effective methodologies to conserve biological diversity for the benefit of all humanity. One of the first factors to be considered when conserving botanical diversity is the efficient and effective selection of the target taxa. The aim of this paper is not to set detailed priorities for the genetic conservation of the plant genetic resources of any particular crop or species complex, but to draw attention to the factors that should be considered when formulating priorities. The factors that are considered important when selecting plant genetic resource targets are: current conservation status; potential economic use; threat of genetic erosion; genetic distinctiveness; ecogeographic distribution; biological importance; cultural importance; cost, feasibility and sustainability; legislation; ethical and aesthetic considerations; and priorities of the conservation agency undertaking the conservation. Each of these factors is discussed in turn. Although it is not possible to provide a single methodology for the selection of plant genetic resource targets at this time, it is hoped that the consideration the factors discussed will make the selection of target taxa more object, make better use of the limited conservation resources and thus enhance the process of genetic conservation as a whole.

conservation methodology PGR priorities target taxa 


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Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 1997

Authors and Affiliations

  • N. Maxted
    • 1
  • J.G. Hawkes
    • 1
  • L. Guarino
    • 2
  • M. Sawkins
    • 1
  1. 1.The University of BirminghamEdgbaston, BirminghamUk
  2. 2.International Plant Genetic Resources InstituteRegional Office for Sub-Saharan African, c/o IcrafNairobiKenya

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