ABC of genetic diversity conservation

Genetic erosion

Over the last century, a considerable amount of plant genetic diversity in agriculture has been lost as farmers worldwide have left their multiple local varieties for genetically uniform, high-yielding varieties. This loss affects crop potential to adapt to a changing environment.


Risks posed by genetic erosion raised international concerns that result in agreements to ensure the conservation of Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture (PGRFA). All cultivated plants and their wild progenitors, but also wild species not cultivated used for other purpose, such as medicinal plants, are considered genetic material to be preserved.

In situ strategy

Genetic conservation could be addressed by two different and complementary
approaches. In situ strategy consists in maintaining viable population of species in the place where plants developed their distinctive properties. The ex situ approach involves conservation outside species habitats or sites of origin, for example as seeds or tissues in genebanks.

Crop Wild Relatives

Plants species which are closely related to cultivated crops and continue to evolve in the wild, are precious sources of diversity. They have been used since the beginnings of agriculture, to improve cultivated plants traits. CRW are also consumed as food and involved in many other uses.

Seed Networks

These are major actors in the agrobiodiversity conservation scene, at a global level. They consist in various types of organizations composed by farmers and home-gardeners, but also researchers, small seed enterprises, environmentalists, food processers and consumers.


In situ conservation strategies require a complex multi-actor approach and need to be embedded into overall strategies to preserve plant genetic resources.”
Dynaversity consortium