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Genetics. 1974 Sep;78(1):53-65.

Genetic conservation: our evolutionary responsibility.

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CSIRO, Division of Plant Industry, P.O. Box 1600, Canberra City. A.C.T. Australia.


The conservation of the crop varieties of traditional agriculture in the centers of genetic diversity is essential to provide genetic resources for plant improvement. These resources are acutely threatened by rapid agricultural development which is essential for the welfare of millions. Methodologies for genetic conservation have been worked out which are both effective and economical. Urgent action is needed to collect and preserve irreplaceable genetic resources.Wild species, increasingly endangered by loss of habitats, will depend on organized protection for their survival. On a long term basis this is feasible only within natural communities in a state of continuing evolution, hence there is an urgent need for exploration and clarification of the genetic principles of conservation. Gene pools of wild species are increasingly needed for various uses, from old and new industries to recreation. But the possibility of a virtual end to the evolution of species of no direct use to man raises questions of responsibility and ethics.


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