Plant Genetic Resources: Selected Issues from Genetic Erosion to Genetic Engineering

Karl Hammer, Yifru Teklu


Plant Genetic Resources (PGR) continue to play an important role in the development of agriculture. The following aspects receive a special consideration:
1. Definition. The term was coined in 1970. The genepool concept served as an important tool in the further development. Different approaches are discussed.
2. Values of Genetic Resources. A short introduction is highlighting this problem and stressing the economic usfulness of PGR.
3. Genetic Erosion. Already observed by E. Baur in 1914, this is now a key issue within PGR. The case studies cited include Ethiopia, Italy, China, S Korea, Greece and S. Africa. Modern approaches concentrate on allelic changes in varieties over time but neglect the landraces. The causes and consequences of genetic erosion are discussed.
4. Genetic Resources Conservation. Because of genetic erosion there is a need for conservation. PGR should be consigned to the appropriate method of conservation (ex situ, in situ, on-farm) according to the scientific basis of biodiversity (genetic diversity, species diversity, ecosystem diversity) and the evolutionary status of plants (cultivated plants, weeds, related wild plants (crop wild relatives)).
5. GMO. The impact of genetically engineered plants on genetic diversity is discussed.
6. The Conclusions and Recommendations stress the importance of PGR. Their conservation and use are urgent necessities for the present development and future survival of mankind.


Plant Genetic Resources (PGR); crop plants; genetic erosion; genetic resources conservation; GMO

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