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Spinach, Armenia and Azerbaijan, 2011

Collectors: C. Kik (Netherlands), V. Farzaliyev (Azerbaijan), G. Melyan and I. Gabrielyan (Armenia)


Collecting landraces of spinach (Spinacia oleracea) and its wild crossable relative S. tetrandra was the aim of this expedition, which made this expedition a single crop expedition. Spinach and its wild relative S. tetrandra were chosen because the variation present in the available ex situ collections worldwide of spinach and its two wild relatives was considered too low by CGN and its stakeholders. In this respect the international spinach database shows, that around 2000 Spinacia accessions are available in genebanks worldwide of which ca. 700 accessions of spinach landraces and ca. 25 accessions of the two wild relatives of spinach (S. turkestanica and S. tetrandra).

The two wild relatives are especially of importance for breeders as they proved to be a unique gene reservoir in case of the development of cultivars resistant to Peronospora farinosa. Furthermore it could be expected that also genes important for drought tolerance and growth under nutrient poor conditions can be found in these wild species.

The expedition was carried out in the Trans Caucasus as this area is known to be part of the biodiversity centre of Spinacia tetrandra. CGN has conducted a large number of expeditions in the past, and this spinach expedition to the Trans Caucasus fits into this tradition. The expedition could therefore also benefit from this knowledge and experience when collecting in this part of the world.

In 2011 a Memorandum of Understanding adopting the standard Material Transfer Agreement (sMTA) of the Internal Treaty for Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture (IT-PGRFA), as a basis for distribution, was signed between CGN and the national authorities on access and benefit sharing in Armenia and Azerbaijan. The national authorities in Georgia agreed to the collecting expedition when the ABS protocol of the CBD would be used as a basis for distribution. Both documents formed the legal basis of the expedition.