Utilisation of plant genetic resources in breeding for sustainability

Mervyn O. Humphreys

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Citations (Scopus)


UK agriculture is undergoing significant change with reduced subsidies for food production, increasing consumer demands for food safety and traceability, and environmental concerns including climate and demographic change. The International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture adopted by the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation supports the use of genetic resources for research and breeding. Mining genetic resources for useful genetic variation is perceived as a major benefit of genebanks. However, utilization by breeders may be constrained by poor characterization of genetic resources, a widening gap between improved and unimproved material, and the disruption of well- adapted genotypes during introgression. Breeders working with grasses and forage legumes for sustainable agriculture are fortunate in the wealth of genetic variation available both within the primary species of interest and among related species. New DNA technologies allow more targeted approaches to the use of these genetic resources. Possibilities for gene transfer between related species using conventional techniques expand the available gene pools while potential use of genetic transformation extend these even further.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)11-18
Number of pages8
JournalPlant Genetic Resources: Characterization and Utilization
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2003


  • forage grasses
  • forage legumes
  • introgression
  • plant breeding
  • sustainability


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