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Abstract Detail

Underutilized Crops for Secure and Green Futures

Zerega, Nyree [1], Meyer, Rachel [2], Miller, Allison [3].

Underutilized Crops for Secure and Green Futures.

It is estimated that approximately 7,000 – 10,000 plant species have been cultivated by humans for food at some point in history, and tens of thousands of additional species are known to be edible. However, only ca. 30 species are responsible for providing over 90% of the global food supply today, and just three species (wheat, rice, and corn) provide more than half of the plant-sourced calories and proteins in the human diet. These three annual species require large energy input to grow and are exported throughout the world, contributing to agriculture being one of the largest producers of greenhouse gases. As the world becomes increasingly reliant on a limited number of major crops, the use, knowledge, and diversity of regionally important crops have suffered. Concerns about the future of agriculture have refocused attention on the thousands of plant species that are cultivated locally on small scales, many of which are in incipient stages of domestication, and have potential to advance global food and ecosystem security. These underutilized species represent a large and generally untapped source of plant genetic resources, including species cultivated for grains, legumes, fruits, nuts, and biofuels. Underutilized crops may be well-adapted to the agricultural challenges of their native environments, hence they provide low-emissions solutions to strengthening smallholder farm security. Current work aims to describe diversity in underutilized crops and their wild relatives and to understand the geographic origins, evolutionary history, and local uses of these species. In addition, underutilized crop species present valuable opportunities to study the genetic basis of a range of ecologically and economically important traits, and use this knowledge to inform breeding strategies for these and related crops. This symposium seeks to present case studies on underutilized crops to showcase the utility of basic research on a range of cultivated species, with the goal of supporting diverse food sources that are both low-impact and highly productive, and seeks also to promote collaboration within the BSA community and beyond.

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1 - Northwestern University, Program In Biological Sciences, 2205 Tech Drive, 2-144 Hogan Hall, Evanston, IL, 60208, USA, 847-467-1266
2 - New York University, 12 Waverly Place, New York, NY, 10003, USA
3 - Saint Louis University, Department of Biology, 3507 Laclede Ave. , St. Louis, MO , 63103-2010, USA

underutilized crops
genetic diversity
crop wild relatives
food security
crop domesticaton.

Presentation Type: Symposium Presentation
Session: SY08
Location: Salon 17/18/The Shaw Conference Centre
Date: Tuesday, July 28th, 2015
Time: 8:00 AM
Number: SY08SUM
Abstract ID:42
Candidate for Awards:None

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