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Wild celery network of genetic reserves

Wild celery network of genetic reserves

Wild celery in Germany

All modern varieties of cultured celery cultivated in Europe and the USA originate from only two forms (White Plume and Giant Pascal). Studies have shown that the current spectrum of varieties available in Germany in particular has a very limited genetic basis. In the medium term, substantial progress in breeding can only be realized by crossing the breeding material with traits from wild genetic resources.

Botanically, a distinction is made in Germany between four wild celery species that occur at locations throughout Germany and are endangered to varying degrees: Apium graveolens, Helosciadium inundatum, H. nodiflorum, and H. repens. They are an important genetic resource for celery breeding and need to be protected. The distribution of the species is largely known.

Foundation of the wild celery network of genetic reserves

The pilot and demonstration project "genetic reserves for wild celery species (Apium and Helosciadium)" (03/2015 – 11/2019), funden by the Federal Ministry for Food and Agriculture, set the framework for the development of the network. The Julius Kühn Institute (JKI), together with the University of Osnabrück and the Humboldt University of Berlin, identified wild celery populations which rerpesent the intraspecific genetic diversity of the four speices. The project demonstrated how the protection of crop wild relatives in their natural habitats can be improved by establishing an exemplary nationwide network of genetic reserves.

The wild celery network of genetic reserves was founded in summer 2019. It consists currently of 14 genetic reserves (as of April 2020). Additional genetic reserves will be designated in collaboration with the local natur protection offices. Complementary ex situ conservation of the populations takes place in the German CWR genebank.

The coordination unit of the wild celery network is located at the JKI. It works with institutions and local actors to maintain and enlarge the network. It collects further data about wild celery occurrences in Germany and integrates the network into the German Network of Genetic Reserves.