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Landraces: A review of definitions and classifications


The first reference to landraces as genetic resources dates from 1890. Some 20 years later the first definitions of a landrace were published. In the period 1909–1952 several definitions of the term landrace have been presented. No definitions were discovered in articles published in the period 1953–1974. The reason could be that after the Second World War attention of plant breeders and others was focussed on making instant progress. New definitions have been presented since 1974. Genetically related landraces form a landrace group. Synonyms of the term landrace and landrace group as cited in the literature are also given. The classification of types of landraces given by Mayr in 1934 had been discussed and an amended classification provided, paying attention to contamination caused by seed change. As a landrace has a complex and indefinable nature an all-embracing definition cannot be given. However, I suggest the following: an autochthonous landrace is a variety with a high capacity to tolerate biotic and abiotic stress, resulting in a high yield stability and an intermediate yield level under a low input agricultural system.

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Zeven, A. Landraces: A review of definitions and classifications. Euphytica 104, 127–139 (1998).

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  • landrace
  • garden-race
  • definition
  • classification
  • history