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Mobilizing Crop Biodiversity

McCouch, S., Navabi, Z.K., Abberton, M., Anglin, N.L., Barbieri, R.L., Baum, M., Bett, K., Booker, H., Brown, G.L., Bryan, G.J., Cattivelli, L., Charest, D., Eversole, K., Freitas, M., Ghamkhar, K., Grattapaglia, D., Henry, R., Valadares Inglis, M.C., Islam, T., Kehel, Z., Kersey, P.J., King, G.J., Kresovich, S., Marden, E., Mayes, S., Ndjiondjop, M.No., Nguyen, H.T., Paiva, S.R., Papa, R., Phillips, P.W.B., Rasheed, A., Richards, C., Rouard, M., Amstalden Sampaio, M.J., Scholz, U., Shaw, P.D., Sherman, B., Staton, S.E., Stein, N., Svensson, J., Tester, M., Montenegro Valls, J.F., Varshney, R.ORCID: 0000-0002-4562-9131, Visscher, S., von Wettberg, E., Waugh, R., Wenzl, P. and Rieseberg, L.H. (2020) Mobilizing Crop Biodiversity. Molecular Plant, 13 (10). pp. 1341-1344.

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Over the past 70 years, the world has witnessed extraordinary growth in crop productivity, enabled by a suite of technological advances, including higher yielding crop varieties, improved farm management, synthetic agrochemicals, and agricultural mechanization. While this “Green Revolution” intensified crop production, and is credited with reducing famine and malnutrition, its benefits were accompanied by several undesirable collateral effects (Pingali, 2012). These include a narrowing of agricultural biodiversity, stemming from increased monoculture and greater reliance on a smaller number of crops and crop varieties for the majority of our calories. This reduction in diversity has created vulnerabilities to pest and disease epidemics, climate variation, and ultimately to human health (Harlan, 1972).

The value of crop diversity has long been recognized (Vavilov, 1992). A global system of genebanks (e.g., was established in the 1970s to conserve the abundant genetic variation found in traditional “landrace” varieties of crops and in crop wild relatives (Harlan, 1972). While preserving crop variation is a critical first step, the time has come to make use of this variation to breed more resilient crops. The DivSeek International Network ( is a scientific, not-for-profit organization that aims to accelerate such efforts.

Item Type: Journal Article
Publisher: Cell Press an Imprint of Elsevier
Copyright: © 2020 The Authors.
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