Modeling of crop wild relative species identifies areas globally for in situ conservation.
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The impact of climate change is causing challenges for the agricultural production and food systems. More nutritious and climate resilient crop varieties are required, but lack of available and accessible trait diversity is limiting crop improvement. Crop wild relatives (CWR) are the wild cousins of cultivated crops and a vast resource of genetic diversity for breeding new, higher yielding, climate change tolerant crop varieties, but they are under-conserved (particularly in situ), largely unavailable and therefore underutilized. Here we apply species distribution modelling, climate change projections and geographic analyses to 1261 CWR species from 167 major crop genepools to explore key geographical areas for CWR in situ conservation worldwide. We identify 150 sites where 65.7% of the CWR species identified can be conserved for future use.
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