Conservation of wild relatives of fruit trees (WRFTs) exposed to deterioration in Northern Syria

Wild Relatives of Fruit Trees (WRFT) represent heterogeneous, local adaptations of domesticated fruit species, and thereby provide genetic resources that meet current and new challenges for farming in stressful environments and climatic changes. The main contributions of landraces to plant breeding have been traits for more efficient nutrient uptake and utilization, as well as useful genes for adaptation to stressful environments such as water stress, salinity, and high temperatures. Syria is located in the Fertile Crescent—an important centre of diversity of plant genetic resources, including wild relatives of fruits and nuts (e.g., peach, pear, almond and pistachio). Several studies and reports mentioned that these landraces are exposed to generic erosion. Deterioration for these landraces had started before the ongoing conflict, but the current situation in Syria, ongoing war and conflict constitutes a major threat to these genotypes that adapted easily for climatic conditions in Syria. The proposed research had been designed according to the National Strategy for Conservation and Management of Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture 2015 – 2035.The conservation of biodiversity is an essential component of the process of sustainable agricultural development. Syria is situated in the middle of countries with a very important biological diversity of cereals, legumes, fruit trees and pasture plants. These species are threatened by extinction due to the Syrian crisis that led to the absence of research authorities that were working in the field of Conservation and propagation of genetic resources in order to keep it as a genetic cushion available for future research and to be available for future generations. Deterioration of plant genetic resources in Syria started before the crisis. FAO, 1996 and Marcos et al., 2018 mentioned that Plant genetic resources in Syria is vulnerable to degradation due to several reasons that accumulated together to cause this deterioration or even extinctions for some genotypes.  No Conserving wild plants activities are planned to establish a new Flora, mainly because Syrian botanists have not been very interested on account of the ongoing armed conflict. The study has been designed to evaluate the status of wild relatives of fruit trees followed identification of the genotypes exposed to deterioration to be conserved through establishment of Ex Situ reserves (local WRFT collection) for the genotypes exposed to genetic erosion be available for future generations and future research.

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