ABS Biodiscovery in Jordan: Using genes of crop wild relatives to improve the resistance of lettuce to fungal diseases
The native flora of Jordan includes many economically important groups of plants such as plants of medicinal values, many wild edible plants and Crop Wild Relatives (CWR). CWRs are the wild cousins of our cultivated crops and are genetically related to food crop varieties. Untended by humans, they continue to evolve in the wild, developing traits such as drought tolerance or pest resistance. Breeders can make use of their superior genetic traits to improve commercial varieties towards resisting different stress conditions.
The National Agriculture Research Centre (NARC) in Jordan, the designated national gene bank of Jordan, established a collaboration with the Centre for Genetic Resources (CGN) concerning the collection and sharing of materials (seeds) and related information about the gene pool of Lactuca species (Asteraceae) in Jordan.
Material exchanges have involved the crop wild relatives of cultivated lettuce, which is a genus of great importance to food and agriculture but not included in the Multilateral System of the International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture (PGRFA). Therefore, such material exchanges are regulated in accordance with the bilateral ABS approach of the Nagoya Protocol.
The crop wild relatives of lettuce that grow mostly in disturbed habitats possess genes of resistance to fungal diseases. Such genes can be introgressed into cultivated
lettuce (Lactuca sativa) to induce resistance to diseases. With the aid of genetic markers, the resistant lines are selected and crossed with the cultivated lettuce. Then
a routine procedure of backcrossing with the cultivated parent with marker-assisted screening is used to develop to the resistant cultivated variety.
Besides the researchers at CGN, third parties (private companies) will also be involved during the product-development value chain, starting from the propagation stage. The main benefits will be the sharing of knowledge, capacity building of NARC staff by the CGN and the private companies both in Jordan and outside the country, support for the missions of collection and conservation and for the establishment of breeding programmes in Jordan and the joint publication of scientific reports and papers.
The Biodiversity directorate at NARC is seeking further collaboration to expand the scope of such work with other international organizations to support research on the conservation and utilization of local flora and landraces.
With the support of the UNDP-GEF Global ABS Project, Jordan is working to implement Target 15.6 of SDG 15 (Life on land) on access to genetic resources, its sustainable use and benefit sharing.
To view the full version of this ABS biodiscovery case click here.