Crop Wild Relatives (CWRs), i.e. the COUSINs of domesticated crops, represent a natural source of genetic variation. The COUSIN consortium recognizes the value of CWRs for agriculture, but also the challenges of their utilisation. We will demonstrate a roadmap for the use of CWRs in breeding and farming. We will work with five flagship crops: wheat, barley, pea, lettuce and brassicas. With these exemplary crops, we demonstrate how current challenges of stakeholders from farm to fork can be overcome using CWRs in formalised and participatory breeding.

WP2 - Monitoring and conservation of Crop Wild Relatives

The main objectives of WP2 are to provide knowledge and document the state of CWR diversity across the environmental and geographical gradients in Europe. This, in turn will improve the conservation of the CWR populations across the whole European region. In particular, data concerning a selected list of CWR of proven importance in major crops for human food, forage and fodder, including the CWR of the five flagship species of COUSIN will be generated and feed into various conservation measures.

Based on the current state of knowledge and using state-of-the-art species modelling, this WP will focus on 4 main objectives:

  1. Evaluating the extent of the diversity of species, traits and phylogeny for relevant CWR taxa (identified by prioritizing their relationship to a crop, including COUSIN flagship crops, and their conservation status) with a particular focus on agricultural land, protected areas, and habitat types hosting particularly valuable CWRs
  2. Promote the establishment of genetic reserves by (1) identifying relevant areas in terms of diversity, and resilience to climate change and other threats to be integrated into in situ CWR conservation strategies; (2) preparing guidelines for the set-up of genetic reserves for in situ conservation. Establish at least 3 pilot genetic reserves representing the range of different environments and management regimes across Europe. And to start a database at European level that collects the data of all CWR reserves in order to be a source of consultation for their use in breeding.
  3. Identify relevant priority CWR taxa and populations to be conserved in ex situ collections. Organize seed collecting expeditions to provide the corresponding germplasm to local genebanks.
  4. Improve coordination between in and ex situ conservation (trans situ) in order to maximiseconservation and sustainable use of the CWR gene pools.
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Luca Bütikofer (UNIL)

Blaise Petitpierre (Infoflora)

Sylvain Aubry (OFAG)

Olivier Broennimann (UNIL)

Antoine Guisan (UNIL)

Biophore - CH-1015 Lausanne
Tel. +41 21 692 41 60
Fax +41 21 692 41 65