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​PGR Caracterization and evaluation

​PGR Caracterization and evaluation

​Our research focuses on the characterisation of plant genetic resources of cereals, legumes, vegetable and industrial crops, the evaluation of relevant characters for the improvement of these crops, and the multiplication of varieties.

Grupo de investigación dependiente del

​Centro Nacional de Recursos Fitogenéticos

The collections of cereals, legumes, grains, vegetable and industrial crops maintained in the National Plant Genetic Resources Centre (CRF) are very valuable genetic resources and plant heritage due to their great diversity. 

These collections include mainly traditional varieties, which were cultivated in different localities of Spain before being replaced by modern varieties obtained by breeding.

Many of these varieties have disappeared from the fields, so these collections have unique materials, which also represent a great geographical diversity.

The cultivation of these varieties in their areas of origin for centuries, and with traditional agricultural practices, has contributed to the fact that these varieties possess genes for tolerance to diseases, drought, etc., as well as for adaptation to different climatic conditions and less intensive agricultural systems.

These valuable genes can be introduced into new varieties to improve their adaptation, so the study and characterisation of plant genetic resources is very interesting to breeders, and for the present and future food security.

It is also of interest to professionals who want to recover some of these traditional varieties (farmers, bakers, etc.).​


The characterisation of plant genetic resources is essential to increase the biodiversity of the food chain. Our group includes research teams for the characterisation of winter cereals, grain legumes, vegetables and industrial crop collections. Our research lines are:

Multiplication and agro-morphological characterisation

The multiplication of the varieties is carried out using the most suitable methods to be properly preserved. This multiplication is essential to maintain living materials and handle user requests.

The agro-morphological and molecular characterisation of the materials allow the identification of the varieties and errors in the collections. The descriptors published by Bioversity International (​) are used for the agro-morphological characterisation Wheat_CRF.PDF. In the cereal collections, we analyzed the endosperm proteins to complete the agro-morphological characterisation.

In the period 2015-2019, we have multiplied and / or characterized (including wild species related to some of these crops):​

  • 1000 cereal varieties (wheat, oat, rye and barley)
  • 874varieties of legumes of autumn sowing (faba bean, chickpea, lentil, single-flowered vetch, narbon vetch, fenugreek, pea, common vetch, hairy vetch, bitter vetch, grass pea and vetchling)
  • 70 varieties of beans and 55 of cowpea of spring sowing 
  • 650 varieties of vegetables and industrial crops.
  • In addition, data on protein and phenol content are available for different varieties of narbon vetch, fenugreek and chickpea.​

​​Molecular ​characterisation

The wheat collections have been characterized with high-throughput genotyping techniques in the framework of a collaboration project with the Polytechnic University of Madrid. This analysis has shown that traditional varieties have greater genetic diversity than modern varieties in some areas that include genes related to important agronomic traits. Traditional varieties are also divided into groups, showed genetic differences. This information is very useful to select germplasm for pre-breeding to obtain more adapted varieties.

For the forage legume Vicia sativa, we have used transcriptomic studies to identify molecular mechanisms involved in the response and tolerance to drought. Also, polymorphic variants have been identified to design molecular markers associated with tolerance to this stress. Thevetch collection has been genotyped with molecular markers, which can also be used in 16 species of Vicia.

Creation of core collections

Both the cereal and legume collections have hundreds of varieties. So, their study to find interesting characters is expensive and difficult. The development of subsets of varieties, or core collections, which represent the variability of 

the collection in a smaller number of varieties facilitates the evaluation of the collections.

​In collaboration with other research teams, we have created the durum and common wheat core collections using high-throughput genotyping data. Both collections have 94 genotypes, which represent the geographic, agronomic and genetic variability of the complete collection conserved at INIA-CRF.

The vetch core collection, created using passport data and agro-morphological characters, is being validated with molecular markers.

Evaluation of the collections

In collaboration with other groups, the durum and common wheat core collections have been evaluated for:

  • Quality
  • Quality-related gluten proteins
  • Architecture of the root system
  • Disease resistence

These evaluations have shown that traditional Spanish varieties have a great variability for important characters for pre-breeding, highlighting some varieties for their good values.

We have also found that some traditional wheat varieties display adaptive traits useful for conservation tillage.

The vetch core collection has been evaluated for parameters associated with drought behaviour.​

Spike collection

It is a spike collection of 3,500 traditional varieties, mostly wheat, started in 1953. This collection is a valuable reference material for the identification of varieties. A part of the collection has been digitised for online access ​ (Espigario).​​​​​


Coordinador de Grupo

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