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Introduction: perspectives for economically important wild species and neglected crops in the Mediterranean

Heywood, V. (2009) Introduction: perspectives for economically important wild species and neglected crops in the Mediterranean. Bocconea, 23. pp. 107-114. ISSN 1120-4060

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The Mediterranean region is one of the major centres of origin and diversification of cultivated plants and many crop wild relatives are found there. In addition, many native species are still widely harvested from the wild for food, medicine and other uses and some of these have potential for development as alternative crop especially in marginal zones. While there have been several recent initiatives that address the cataloguing and conservation of these species, such as the Network on Identification, Conservation and Use of Wild Plants in the Mediterranean Region (MEDUSA and the Bioversity International (IPGRI) studies on Underutilized Mediterranean Species (VMS), no comprehensive assessment has yet been made and little work undertaken on their agricultural potential. It has been confidently predicted that consequences of global change in the Mediterranean region - population movements and migrations, changes in disturbance regimes, and climate change - will be serious. One the one hand, this will affect the survival prospects of many of these underutilized species and on the other hand it will enhance their importance as the source of potential new crop germplasm. The conservation and availability of genetic diversity of both crops and underutilized species is essential if we are to be able to meet the increasing demand for food and other crops that will be adapted to the new ecoclimatic envelopes that will develop in the region as a consequence of global change. The rapid rate of climatic and other change that is expected adds urgency to the task of assessing, conserving and sustainably using this rich diversity of wild species of economic value in the region but new strategies will be need to be developed to achieve this. The Mediterranean region has the potential of becoming a major source of new crop development in the coming decades.

Item Type:Article
Divisions:Life Sciences > School of Biological Sciences
ID Code:9616

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