A gap analysis methodology for collecting crop genepools: a case study with Phaseolus beans

J. Ramírez-Villegas, C.K. Khoury, A. Jarvis, D.G. Debouck, L. Guarino

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

96 Citations (Scopus)


Background The wild relatives of crops represent a major source of valuable traits for crop improvement. These resources are threatened by habitat destruction, land use changes, and other factors, requiring their urgent collection and long-term availability for research and breeding from ex situ collections. We propose a method to identify gaps in ex situ collections (i.e. gap analysis) of crop wild relatives as a means to guide efficient and effective collecting activities. Methodology/Principal Findings The methodology prioritizes among taxa based on a combination of sampling, geographic, and environmental gaps. We apply the gap analysis methodology to wild taxa of the Phaseolus genepool. Of 85 taxa, 48 (56.5%) are assigned high priority for collecting due to lack of, or under-representation, in genebanks, 17 taxa are given medium priority for collecting, 15 low priority, and 5 species are assessed as adequately represented in ex situ collections. Gap “hotspots”, representing priority target areas for collecting, are concentrated in central Mexico, although the narrow endemic nature of a suite of priority species adds a number of specific additional regions to spatial collecting priorities. Conclusions/Significance Results of the gap analysis method mostly align very well with expert opinion of gaps in ex situ collections, with only a few exceptions. A more detailed prioritization of taxa and geographic areas for collection can be achieved by including in the analysis predictive threat factors, such as climate change or habitat destruction, or by adding additional prioritization filters, such as the degree of relatedness to cultivated species (i.e. ease of use in crop breeding). Furthermore, results for multiple crop genepools may be overlaid, which would allow a global analysis of gaps in ex situ collections of the world's plant genetic resources
Original languageEnglish
Article numbere13497
Number of pages18
JournalPLoS ONE
Issue number10
Publication statusPublished - 2010


  • species distribution models
  • wild relatives
  • climate-change
  • sample-size
  • distributions
  • conservation
  • performance
  • diversity
  • bias
  • prediction

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