Crop Genetic Resources

Crop genetic resources can be described as germplasm which represents past building blocks of present day crops, and germplasm which can furnish the genetic material for future new crop varieties. In this biotechno-logical age the second category, genetic material for future new crop varieties, can encompass all germplasm, plant, animal and microorganism, since gene transfer across kingdoms, and even the introduction of manmade genes, is now a reality. Crop genetic resources can be categorized into four groups (Fig. 12.1):

1. Germplasm from natural habitats;

2. Germplasm from cultivation and cultivators;

3. Germplasm from breeding programs; and

4. Gene sources from research laboratories.

For the purposes of this paper we will focus only on the first three categories, while realizing that the fourth category may become increasingly important for crop improvement in the future.

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