Biotech Updates

Wild Relatives of Crops Discovered in the U.S.

May 15, 2013

Researchers have discovered nearly 4,600 wild relatives of crop plants in the United States, including close relatives of globally important food crops such as sunflower, bean, sweet potato, and strawberry. These findings, which were published in the journal Crop Science may help plant breeders who have increasingly relied iin recent years on wild kins of domesticated crops as new sources of disease resistance, drought tolerance, and other traits.

Over the past four years, a team led by Colin Khoury of the International Center for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT) in Colombia, and Stephanie Greene of the USDA-Agricultural Research Service has been collecting as much information on U.S. crop wild relatives as it can. This includes the species' names, which crop plants they have been used to improve (if any), how closely related they are to their respective crops, and whether any of the genetic resources found in crop wild relatives are already conserved in gene banks.

View CIAT's news release at