Reap the crop wild relatives for breeding future crops

Trends Biotechnol. 2022 Apr;40(4):412-431. doi: 10.1016/j.tibtech.2021.08.009. Epub 2021 Oct 8.


Crop wild relatives (CWRs) have provided breeders with several 'game-changing' traits or genes that have boosted crop resilience and global agricultural production. Advances in breeding and genomics have accelerated the identification of valuable CWRs for use in crop improvement. The enhanced genetic diversity of breeding pools carrying optimum combinations of favorable alleles for targeted crop-growing regions is crucial to sustain genetic gain. In parallel, growing sequence information on wild genomes in combination with precise gene-editing tools provide a fast-track route to transform CWRs into ideal future crops. Data-informed germplasm collection and management strategies together with adequate policy support will be equally important to improve access to CWRs and their sustainable use to meet food and nutrition security targets.

Keywords: adaptation; crop wild relatives (CWRs); genebanks; genetic diversity; introgression breeding; linkage drag; pre-breeding.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Crops, Agricultural* / genetics
  • Gene Editing
  • Genomics
  • Phenotype
  • Plant Breeding*