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Crop Genetic Diversity

  • By: Hannes Dempewolf
  • In: Encyclopedia of Geography
  • Edited by: Barney Warf
  • Subject:General Geography, Earth & Environmental Science

Crop genetic diversity describes the genetic diversity within or between plant species that are either directly useful to humans in the context of food and agriculture or are relatives of such species.

This genetic diversity can be assessed at different taxonomic levels, such as families, genera, species, subspecies, varieties, or landraces. Genetic diversity can be measured by different methods, ranging from the more traditional phenotypic approaches—in which the plant's physical appearance is assessed through field or greenhouse observations—to modern methods that assess genetic diversity at the molecular level.

To increase the genetic diversity of U.S. corn, the Germplasm Enhancement for Maize project seeks to combine exotic germplasm, such as this unusually colored and shaped maize from Latin America, with domestic corn lines.
Source: Keith Weller/ARS/USDA.

Crops are thought ...

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