North American Wild Relatives of Grain Crops

  • David M. BrennerEmail author
  • Harold E. Bockelman
  • Karen A. Williams


The wild-growing relatives of the grain crops are useful for long-term worldwide crop improvement research. There are neglected examples that should be accessioned as living seeds in gene banks. Some of the grain crops, amaranth, barnyard millet, proso millet, quinoa, and foxtail millet, have understudied unique and potentially useful crop wild relatives in North America. Other grain crops, barley, buckwheat, and oats, have fewer relatives in North America that are mostly weeds from other continents with more diverse crop wild relatives. The expanding abilities of genomic science are a reason to accession the wild species since there are improved ways to study evolution within genera and make use of wide gene pools. Rare wild species, especially quinoa relatives in North American, should be acquired by gene banks in cooperation with biologists that already study and conserve at-risk plant populations. Many of the grain crop wild relatives are weeds that have evolved herbicide resistance that could be used in breeding new herbicide-resistant cultivars, so well-documented examples should be accessioned and also vouchered in gene banks.


Gene pool Germplasm Amaranthus Avena Chenopodium Echinochloa Hordeum Panicum Setaria 



Dra. Cristina Mapes, Curadora Colección etnobotánica, Jardín Botánico, Instituto de Biología, UNAM., helped with citations of research in Mexico. David M. Brenner is supported by Hatch Multistate Project NC-7.


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Copyright information

© This is a U.S. Government work and not under copyright protection in the U.S.; foreign copyright protection may apply 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • David M. Brenner
    • 1
    Email author
  • Harold E. Bockelman
    • 2
  • Karen A. Williams
    • 3
  1. 1.Department of Agronomy/North Central Regional Plant Introduction StationAmesUSA
  2. 2.USDA, ARS National Small Grains CollectionAberdeenUSA
  3. 3.USDA, Agricultural Research Service, Beltsville Agricultural Research Center, National Germplasm Resources LaboratoryBeltsvilleUSA

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