Wild relatives of fruit trees in Syria: Genetic resources threatened by conflict

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Munzer Al Darvish
Anas Al Kaddour
Akram Bourgol
Yasser Ramazan
Yousef Hallak
Stephen Cavers
Joan Cottrell


Wild relatives of fruit trees (WRFT) are highly valued for food and tradable products by rural communities, especially in low-income countries and as such are a vital resource for tree improvement. During periods of conflict, a lack of support and protection by national authorities may make WRFT vulnerable. In Syria, WRFT are at risk of extinction due to the ongoing crisis, which has limited efforts to conserve and propagate these unique genetic resources. We collected information about the current status and key threats to WRFT in northwest Syria from 50 agricultural experts using structured interviews. Our results show that many sites have experienced erosion, overgrazing and drought. To initiate in situ and ex situ conservation, the locations of WRFT exposed to deterioration were identified and mapped using GPS, and seeds from five genotypes per species were collected from each of ten species to be used for the establishment of an in situ and ex situ WRFT collection.

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Al Darvish, M., Al Kaddour, A., Bourgol, A., Ramazan, Y., Hallak, Y., Cavers, S. and Cottrell , J. (2023) “Wild relatives of fruit trees in Syria: Genetic resources threatened by conflict”, Genetic Resources, 4(7), pp. 68–75. doi: 10.46265/genresj.ETES2274.
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