Crop Wild Relatives of Sunflower in North America

  • Laura Fredrick MarekEmail author


Cultivated sunflower, with seeds valued for oil, snack consumption and bird feed, and flowers popular in gardens and in the ornamental trade, is native to North America, although its development into a global oilseed crop, briefly described here, depended on the international agricultural community. Sunflower crop wild relatives (CWR), all native to North America, are a rich source of genetic diversity for crop improvement and have been used extensively throughout of the history of sunflower breeding. Traits from Helianthus wild species have been used to increase disease resistance and abiotic stress tolerance and create a reliable hybrid breeding system; examples are described in this chapter. Despite widespread use of sunflower CWR, there is a critical need to fill significant geographic gaps in ex situ collections and to increase conservation of wild sunflower species in situ. Recent genomic developments have made the use of wild species more feasible in shorter timelines emphasizing the potential value of increased conservation efforts.


Cultivated sunflower wild relatives Wild sunflower diversity Wild sunflower traits of value Wild sunflower conservation 



Laura Fredrick Marek is supported by Hatch Multistate Project NC-7.


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© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Agronomy/North Central Regional Plant Introduction StationIowa State UniversityAmesUSA

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