CONSERVATION OF A GENE POOL OF GENUS ALLIUM L. IN A LIVING COLLECTION IN ISRAEL
Allium is represented economically by a few cultivated species - onion, garlic, leek, shallot, chives, etc. Wild onions, either collected or cultivated in home gardens, are popular foods and home medicines in many parts of the world. In addition, a large number of species could be utilized as ornamental plants, while a number of species are common in the horticultural trade. There are also, of course, among Allium, many species with unknown value which should be preserved for future study together with rare and vanishing species about which we have insufficient knowledge.
The creation of a network of living collections would allow:
- the carrying out of theoretical investigations of systematics of the genus, morphological structure and life cycle of species which will extend our knowledge of one of the largest and most important taxa.
- evaluation of plant material and selection of wild species for possible utilization of more prospective samples as new cultivated plants. After selecting prospective species, methods for their effective propagation could be worked out.
- the conservation of species with unknown qualities and a complete gene pool of the genus in principle for the benefit of future generations.
The creation of a large living collection of the genus began at the Jacob Blaustein Institute for Desert Research in 1991 and first evaluations of Allium species are being carried out.