Biotech Updates

Wild Relatives of Potatoes, Peanuts Threatened by Climate Change

May 25, 2007

According to a study released by scientists of the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research (CGIAR), wild relatives of plants such as the potato and the peanut are at risk of extinction, threatening a valuable source of genes that are necessary to boost the ability of cultivated crops to resist pests and tolerate drought. This heralds a challenging future for agriculture. In recent years, genes available in wild relatives have helped breeders develop new types of domesticated crops that can fight devastating diseases, and cereal varieties that are more likely to survive drought conditions.

“The irony here is that plant breeders will be relying on wild relatives more than ever as they work to develop domesticated crops that can adapt to changing climate conditions,” said Annie Lane, the coordinator of a global project on crop wild relatives led by Bioversity International. “Yet because of climate change, we could end up losing a significant amount of these critical genetic resources at precisely the time they are most needed to maintain agricultural production.”

Read the press release at