A non-invasive crop ideotype to reduce invasive potential

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42 Scopus citations


In plant breeding programs, qualitative and quantitative traits confer market value and, thus, constitute the basis for developing breeding criteria during crop domestication. Some traits such as high male/female fertility are advantageous in the wild and could enable the evolution of cultivated crops into invasive weeds. Other traits, e.g. sterility, are not expected to confer invasiveness. To date there has been very limited involvement in invasion risk assessment by plant breeders. Thus, in this paper we propose that trait-based selection of potential crop species be coupled with species design in the creation of a "non-invasive crop ideotype" as an avenue to reduce invasiveness during domestication. The non-invasive crop ideotype embodies the ideal characteristics for a crop to excel in cultivated environment(s) but minimizes the likelihood it will establish and spread in non-cultivated environments, constituting the underlying foundation for all breeding objectives, choice(s) of breeding methodologies, and propagation techniques for non-invasive crop release. Using ornamental (floriculture) horticultural crops as an example, we identify 10 traits to be used individually or in combination to reduce invasiveness while retaining commercial value: reduced genetic variation in propagules, slowed growth rates, non-flowering, elimination of asexual propagules, lack of pollinator rewards, non-shattering seed, non-fleshy fruits, lack of seed germination, sterility, and programmed death (apotopsis). A non-invasive crop ideotype would constitute the underlying foundation for all breeding objectives, the choice(s) of breeding methodologies, and propagation technique(s). The ideotype should be flexible and should adjust to species- and crop-specific traits to account for the intended use. For example, development of sterile cultivars may have negligible effects in reducing invasiveness if the crops spread vegetatively. A non-invasive crop ideotype may increase the direct participation of plant breeders, who are the professionals directly involved in the collection, development and release of new crops, in reducing the invasive potential of ornamental crops. Future research is required to determine the feasibility of incorporating each trait into various crops, use of classical or molecular techniques for creation of non-invasive crops, trait stability (lack of genotype × environment interaction over years and locations), consumer acceptance, and long-term viability.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)185-202
Number of pages18
Issue number1-2
StatePublished - Mar 2006


  • Crop domestication
  • Floriculture crops
  • Invasive species
  • Ornamentals
  • Plant breeding


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