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Crop wild relatives (CWR) are wild plant taxa genetically related to domesticated crops with trait diversity that can be used in plant breeding to sustain food security. Prioritization is a prerequisite for the cost–effective conservation of CWR as it allows CWR in a checklist to be reduced to a manageable number for active conservation action. In this study, a partial CWR checklist comprising 1651 taxa was compiled for West Africa. Prioritization of the annotated CWR checklist was based on three criteria: (i) economic value of the related crop in West Africa, (ii) CWR genetic closeness to its related crop and (iii) threat status. After applying the three criteria using the parallel method of prioritization, 102 priority CWR were selected for active conservation action. The priority CWR are related to food crops that are nationally, regionally and globally important, such as white guinea yam (Dioscorea cayenensis subsp. rotundata (Poir) J. Miège), cassava (Manihot esculenta Crantz), rice (Oryza sativa L.), wheat (Triticum aestivum L.), cowpea (Vigna unguiculata (L.) Walp.), sweet potato (Ipomea batatas (L.) Lam.), common bean (Phaseolus vulgaris L.) and sorghum (Sorghum bicolor (L.) Moench). This CWR checklist and prioritization will help in the development of a regional conservation action plan for West Africa.
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