Toward unifying global hotspots of wild and domesticated biodiversity

Samuel Pironon*, James S. Borrell, Ian Ondo, Ruben Douglas, Charlotte Phillips, Colin K. Khoury, Michael B. Kantar, Nathan Fumia, Marybel Soto Gomez, Juan Viruel, Rafael Govaerts, Félix Forest, Alexandre Antonelli

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

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Global biodiversity hotspots are areas containing high levels of species richness, endemism and threat. Similarly, regions of agriculturally relevant diversity have been identified where many domesticated plants and animals originated, and co-occurred with their wild ancestors and relatives. The agro-biodiversity in these regions has, likewise, often been considered threatened. Biodiversity and agro-biodiversity hotspots partly overlap, but their geographic intricacies have rarely been investigated together. Here we review the history of these two concepts and explore their geographic relationship by analysing global distribution and human use data for all plants, and for major crops and associated wild relatives. We highlight a geographic continuum between agro-biodiversity hotspots that contain high richness in species that are intensively used and well known by humanity (i.e., major crops and most viewed species on Wikipedia) and biodiversity hotspots encompassing species that are less heavily used and documented (i.e., crop wild relatives and species lacking information on Wikipedia). Our contribution highlights the key considerations needed for further developing a unifying concept of agro-biodiversity hotspots that encompasses multiple facets of diversity (including genetic and phylogenetic) and the linkage with overall biodiversity. This integration will ultimately enhance our understanding of the geography of human-plant interactions and help guide the preservation of nature and its contributions to people.

Original languageEnglish
Article number1128
Pages (from-to)1-18
Number of pages18
Issue number9
Publication statusPublished - 31 Aug 2020


  • agro-biodiversity
  • breeding
  • centres of origin
  • conservation
  • crop wild relatives
  • domestication
  • geographic distribution
  • phylogenetic diversity
  • useful plants
  • Vavilov centres
  • UKRI
  • BB/S014896/1

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