An Overview of Horticultural Genetic Resources Diversity, Distribution and Conservation

  • P. E. Rajasekharan
  • V. Ramanatha Rao


The human food basket now includes many horticultural crops. These foods provide proteins, vitamins and other essential substances in addition to calories. Horticultural crops include fruits, vegetables, ornamentals and medicinal crops/species, and these species vary from place to place. Many horticultural crops that have been developed globally are comparable in usefulness to any agricultural crops. Horticultural crops show tremendous variation: many are found in niche areas, and people have had a great role in developing these crops. Improvements in these crops vary because of their biological variability and their economic importance; it is difficult to characterize these crops because of their biological differences. Thus, conservation of the genetic wealth of horticultural crops is very challenging. This chapter hopes to contribute to more effective conservation approaches by reviewing the historical development of the conservation and use of Plant Genetic Resources (PGR), assessing the collecting and conservation efforts of horticultural crops, and critically analyzing the day-to-day genetic resources activities involved with horticultural crops. In the Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture (PGRFA) of the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), only nine horticultural crops are found, because legal access to other horticultural crops is not readily available. To prevent genetic erosion in these species, linkages must be established between in situ and ex situ (gene bank) conservation. Ultimately, the inbred materials need to be supplied to farmers for genetic improvements through plant breeding. For health and nutritional security, effective conservation and judicious use of the genetic resources of horticultural crops are vital. The importance of horticultural biodiversity in mitigating the effect of climate change is well recognized. The indigenous genetic resources of horticultural crops act as a buffer for abiotic stresses and also may reduce the effect of climate change on food production systems.


Horticultural genetic resources Conservation Use Climate change 


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Singapore Pte Ltd. 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • P. E. Rajasekharan
    • 1
  • V. Ramanatha Rao
    • 2
  1. 1.Division of Plant Genetic ResourcesICAR-Indian Institute of Horticultural ResearchBengaluruIndia
  2. 2.Global Research for Development Support Ventures (GRSV)BengaluruIndia

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