Enhancing the conservation of crop wild relatives in England

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


  • Peter Brotherton
  • Julian Hosking
  • John J. Hopkins

Colleges, School and Institutes


Humans require resilient, rapidly renewable and sustainable supplies of food and many other plant-derived supplies. However, the combined effects of climate change and population growth compromise the provision of these supplies particularly in respect to global food security. Crop wild relatives (CWR) contain higher genetic diversity than crops and harbour traits that can improve crop resilience and yield through plant breeding. However, in common with most countries, CWR are poorly conserved in England. There is currently no provision for long-term CWR conservation in situ, and comprehensive ex situ collection and storage of CWR is also lacking. However, there is a commitment to achieve their conservation in England's Biodiversity Strategy and the UK has international commitments to do so as part of the Global Plant Conservation Strategy. Here, we identify a series of measures that could enhance the conservation of English CWR, thereby supporting the achievement of these national and international objectives. We provide an inventory of 148 priority English CWR, highlight hotspots of CWR diversity in sites including The Lizard Peninsula, the Dorset coast and Cambridgeshire and suggest appropriate sites for the establishment of a complementary network of genetic reserves. We also identify individual in situ and ex situ priorities for each English CWR. Based on these analyses, we make recommendations whose implementation could provide effective, long-term conservation of English CWR whilst facilitating their use in crop improvement.


Original languageEnglish
Article numbere0130804
JournalPLoS ONE
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 25 Jun 2015


  • Conservation science, Crop genetics, Conservation genetics, England, Population genetics, Plant genetics, Gene pool, Biodiversity