CWRML: representing crop wild relative conservation and use data in XML

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Background: Crop wild relatives are wild species that are closely related to crops. They are valuable as potential gene donors for crop improvement and may help to ensure food security for the future. However, they are becoming increasingly threatened in the wild and are inadequately conserved, both in situ and ex situ. Information about the conservation status and utilisation potential of crop wild relatives is diverse and dispersed, and no single agreed standard exists for representing such information; yet, this information is vital to ensure these species are effectively conserved and utilised. The European Community-funded project, European Crop Wild Relative Diversity Assessment and Conservation Forum, determined the minimum information requirements for the conservation and utilisation of crop wild relatives and created the Crop Wild Relative Information System, incorporating an eXtensible Markup Language (XML) schema to aid data sharing and exchange. Results: Crop Wild Relative Markup Language (CWRML) was developed to represent the data necessary for crop wild relative conservation and ensure that they can be effectively utilised for crop improvement. The schema partitions data into taxon-, site-, and population-specific elements, to allow for integration with other more general conservation biology schemata which may emerge as accepted standards in the future. These elements are composed of sub-elements, which are structured in order to facilitate the use of the schema in a variety of crop wild relative conservation and use contexts. Pre-existing standards for data representation in conservation biology were reviewed and incorporated into the schema as restrictions on element data contents, where appropriate. Conclusion: CWRML provides a flexible data communication format for representing in situ and ex situ conservation status of individual taxa as well as their utilisation potential. The development of the schema highlights a number of instances where additional standards-development may be valuable, particularly with regard to the representation of population-specific data and utilisation potential. As crop wild relatives are intrinsically no different to other wild plant species there is potential for the inclusion of CWRML data elements in the emerging standards for representation of biodiversity data.


Original languageEnglish
Article number116
JournalBMC Bioinformatics
Publication statusPublished - 25 Feb 2008