In the framework of the Brussel-funded project PGR Secure, Spanish researchers have identified which crop wild relatives (CWR) could be used as a gene source for obtaining new varieties adapted to climate change.
The study, published in the journal Genetic Resources and Crop Evolution, has generated a list of more than 900 wild plants related to 203 crops of interest in the country, with the aim of identifying "the genes needed by the Spanish agriculture".
Agricultural crops are highly vulnerable "to climate change due to the low genetic diversity they contain, which poses a serious risk to food security".
Wild plants evolutionarily related to cultivated species are known as crop wild relatives (CWR) and are species which share with them an important genetic background, wchich facilitates the crossing between the two groups.
The importance of that fact is that wild plant species can be carriers of "very valuable" characteristics, such as tolerance to extreme temperatures or drought or resistance to pests and diseases.
"Compared to our European neighbors, Spain is a country with a very high level of wild phytogenetic resources, that is, plants with direct or potential use in agriculture or food production".
Besides two Spanish universities and a national research center, a Colombian university has also been involved in the study.
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