Genetic erosion in crops: concept, research results and challenges

M.J. van de Wouw, C. Kik, T.J.L. van Hintum, R. van Treuren, L. Visser

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

    251 Citations (Scopus)


    The loss of variation in crops clue to the modernization of agriculture has been described as genetic erosion The current paper discusses the different views that exist on the concept of genetic erosion in crops Genetic erosion of cultivated diversity is reflected in a modernization bottleneck in the diversity levels that occurred during the history of the crop Two stages in this bottleneck are recognized the initial replacement of landraces by modern cultivars, and further trends in diversity as a consequence of modern breeding practices Genetic erosion may occur at three levels of integration crop, variety and allele The different approaches in the recent literature to measure genetic erosion in crops are reviewed. Genetic erosion as reflected in a reduction of allelic evenness and richness appears to be the most useful definition, but has to be viewed in conjunction with events at variety level According to the reviewed literature, the most likely scenario of diversity trends during modernization is the following a reduction in diversity clue to the replacement of landraces by modern cultivars, but no further reduction after this replacement has been completed
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)1-15
    JournalPlant genetic resources: characterization and utilization
    Issue number1
    Publication statusPublished - 2010


    • genetic diversity
    • plant breeding
    • improved varieties
    • landraces
    • genetic erosion
    • modernization
    • spring bread wheat
    • oryza-sativa l.
    • allelic diversity changes
    • farmers seed selection
    • triticum-aestivum l.
    • microsatellite markers
    • molecular diversity
    • green-revolution
    • temporal trends
    • durum desf.


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