Beauty will save the world, but will the world save beauty? The case of the highly endangered Vavilovia formosa (Stev.) Fed. (2014)
Beauty will save the world, but will the world save beauty? The case of the highly endangered Vavilovia formosa (Stev.) Fed.
Main conclusion Vavilovia formosa (Stev.) Fed. is a scientifically valuable common ancestor of the plant tribe Fabeae and also important in breeding and agronomy studies of the cultivated Fabeae, but it is close to extinction. A concerted academic and geovernmental effort is needed to save it. Since 2007, an informal international group of researchers on legumes has been working to increase awareness of Vavilovia formosa (Stev.) Fed., a relict and endangered wild-land relative to crop plant species. A majority of the modern botanical classifications place it within the tribe Fabeae, together with the genera vetchling (Lathyrus L.), lentil (Lens Mill.), pea (Pisum L.) and vetch (Vicia L.). V. formosa is encountered at altitudes from 1,500 m up to 3,500 m in Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Iran, Iraq, Lebanon, Russia, Syria and Turkey. This species may be of extraordinary importance for broadening current scientific knowledge on legume evolution and taxonomy because of its proximity to the hypothetical common ancestor of the tribe Fabeae, as well as for breeding and agronomy of the cultivated Fabeae species due to its perenniality and stress resistance. All this may be feasible only if a concerted and long-term conservation strategy is established and carried out by both academic and geovernmental authorities. The existing populations of V. formosa are in serious danger of extinction. The main threats are domestic and wild animal grazing, foraging, and early frosts in late summer. A long-term strategy to save V. formosa from extinction and to sustain its use in both basic and applied research comprises much improved in situ preservation, greater efforts for an ex situ conservation, and novel approaches of in vitro propagation.
Planta. November 2014, Volume 240, Issue 5, pp 1139–1146. First online: 03 August 2014. DOI: 10.1007/s00425-014-2136-9