Erosion and Prevention of Crop Genetic Diversity Landraces of Georgia (South Caucasus)

  • Maia AkhalkatsiEmail author
Part of the Sustainable Development and Biodiversity book series (SDEB, volume 7)


Georgia (South Caucasus) has many ancient crop varieties used with very old farming traditions and owns linguistics of old civilization coinciding with early Neolithic epoch. The traditional landraces used by local people for thousands of years affected the health and human longevity of individuals in the Georgian population predicting adaptation to healthy food. Crop domestication is associated to existence of crop wild relatives (CWRs) on the territory of Georgia. Molecular studies confirmed domestication of grapevine (Vitis vinifera) from wild species (V. vinifera subsp. sylvestris) and pear varieties from wild Caucasian pear (Pyrus caucasica). Many fruits are associated to wild tree species distributed in the refugium territory of the western Georgia. Some crops: wheat, barley, ray, oats, lentil, pea, chickpea, etc., are genetically related with wild species. Therefore, the most important challenges in the near future are certainly the molecular characterization of germplasm collections for preserving them from genetic erosion and the identification of phenotypic variants potentially useful for breeding new varieties. Georgian ancient crop varieties reveal a high level of adaptation to local climatic conditions, and often have high resistance to diseases. The loss of landraces and ancient crop varieties should be considered as main threat to agrobiodiversity in Georgia. Besides the diminishing of the amount of agricultural products, the main threat to agrobiodiversity is the loss of the territory of Georgia. Additionally, there are several reasons for the genetic erosion of the ancient cultivars and the wide distribution of new varieties of introduced crops. Germplasm of the landraces extinct in the local farms are stored only in the gene banks and in the living collections of Georgia and foreign countries. One of the problems is the deficit of information about the current state of ancient crops and recommendations for their conservation are inadequate. Therefore, it is necessary to assess research needs and implications for protection of genetic resources and to formulate recommendations for the conservation and on-farm maintenance of Georgian landraces.


Ancient crops Cereals Genetic erosion Georgian agribiodiversity Grape Landraces South caucasus Triticum Vitis Wheat 


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Plant Genetic Resources, Institute of BotanyIlia State UniversityTbilisiRepublic of Georgia

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