Publications

Genetic diversity trends in twentieth century crop cultivars: a meta analysis

Wouw, M.J. van de; Hintum, T.J.L. van; Kik, C.; Treuren, R. van; Visser, L.

Summary

In recent years, an increasing number of papers has been published on the genetic diversity trends in crop cultivars released in the last century using a variety of molecular techniques. No clear general trends in diversity have emerged from these studies. Meta analytical techniques, using a study weight adapted for use with diversity indices, were applied to analyze these studies. In the meta analysis, 44 published papers were used, addressing diversity trends in released crop varieties in the twentieth century for eight different field crops, wheat being the most represented. The meta analysis demonstrated that overall in the long run no substantial reduction in the regional diversity of crop varieties released by plant breeders has taken place. A significant reduction of 6% in diversity in the 1960s as compared with the diversity in the 1950s was observed. Indications are that after the 1960s and 1970s breeders have been able to again increase the diversity in released varieties. Thus, a gradual narrowing of the genetic base of the varieties released by breeders could not be observed. Separate analyses for wheat and the group of other field crops and separate analyses on the basis of regions all showed similar trends in diversity.