Published March 15, 2023 | Version 2
Journal article Open

A global conservation strategy for crops in the Cucurbitaceae family


The strategy briefly discusses the origins, domestication and centers of crop genetic diversity, highlighting important CWRs, and provides up-to-date information on crop taxonomy and gene pools. Importantly, current ex situ holdings for the major crops are summarized, indicating vulnerabilities (particularly for landraces and CWRs) and gaps in existing collections. Within the strategy, survey data collected from genebanks with Cucurbitaceae collections inform a discussion of current germplasm and genebank management, highlighting research gaps and outlining ways to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of crop genetic diversity conservation. The content of the strategy is derived from a thorough literature review combined with four activities sponsored by the Crop Trust: (i) an expert meeting at the Crop Trust in Bonn, Germany (October 2019); (ii) an expert consultation workshop in Thailand (December 2019); (iii) a detailed online survey sent to 50 genebanks around the world; (iv) analysis of data from Genesys, WIEWS and other online germplasm databases.

The strategy aims to promote the rationalization of conservation efforts at national, regional and global scales, and to identify priority actions to strengthen the conservation of cucurbit genetic resources. Approaches include encouraging partnerships and the sharing of responsibilities, facilities and tasks for the conservation and sustainable use of Cucurbitaceae crop genetic resources. The document is intended to lead to strong stakeholder engagement and community ownership.


A first version of this document was published in 2021. In this second version of the strategy, we dropped the term "unique" from some tables reporting the estimated number of accessions. In the footnotes, we previously explained that in these tables the phrase "unique accessions" refers to estimates after dropping only duplicates identified on the basis of the DONORNUMB and DONORCODE fields in passport data. A more accurate label would be "total accessions after dropping a limited number of duplicates identified on the basis of the DONORNUMB and DONORCODE fields in passport data." However, some colleagues were misled by the use of the label "unique accessions" and interpreted these figures as precise estimates of globally unique accessions. Rather, these are estimates of total global accessions after dropping only the most obvious duplicates. Most likely, they still include a large number of other unidentified duplicates. The development of this crop conservation strategy was funded by the German Federal Ministry of Food and Agriculture (BMEL) as part of the three-year project led by the Crop Trust: Breathing New Life into the Global Crop Conservation Strategies: Providing an Evidence Base for the Global System of Ex Situ Conservation of Crop Diversity. The Crop Trust also cooperated with the Secretariat of The International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture (ITPGRFA) in the development of this document.



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