Casañas F., Simó J., Casals J., Prohens J. (2017) Toward an Evolved Concept of Landrace. Frontiers in Plant Science.
The term “landrace” has generally been defined as a cultivated, genetically heterogeneous variety that has evolved in a certain ecogeographical area and is therefore adapted to the edaphic and climatic conditions and to its traditional management and uses. Despite being considered by many to be inalterable, landraces have been and are in a constant state of evolution as a result of natural and artificial selection. Many landraces have disappeared from cultivation but are preserved in gene banks. Using modern selection and breeding technology tools to shape these preserved landraces together with the ones that are still cultivated is a further step in their evolution in order to preserve their agricultural significance. Adapting historical landraces to present agricultural conditions using cutting-edge breeding technology represents a challenging opportunity to use them in a modern sustainable agriculture, as an immediate return on the investment is highly unlikely. Consequently, we propose a more inclusive definition of landraces, namely that they consist of cultivated varieties that have evolved and may continue evolving, using conventional or modern breeding techniques, in traditional or new agricultural environments within a defined ecogeographical area and under the influence of the local human culture. This includes adaptation of landraces to new management systems and the unconscious or conscious selection made by farmers or breeders using available technology. In this respect, a mixed selection system might be established in which farmers and other social agents develop evolved landraces from the variability generated by public entities.
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