How is biodiversity useful to modern agriculture?

Biodiversity is useful to modern agriculture in many ways. One way is the diversity of genes found in the wild that can be used to breed new varieties of crops that may help increase yields or disease resistance. Some examples are:

  • Resistance against viruses, like papaya ringspot virus (PRSV) which almost completely wiped out papaya cultivation on Oahu until researchers were able to find resistant “Hawaiian”-specific strains and crossed them with other PRSV-resistant varieties (Saxena et al. 1997). The resulting new variety was named Rainbow and was distributed throughout plantations over the island (Cabanilla et al.).
  • Cacao trees were mostly wiped out by fungal diseases brought by European colonizers, but a few survived on the highlands of Papua New Guinea and have been used to breed new varieties that are more resistant to fungal diseases (Roe et al. 2017)
  • Capsaicin is what makes chili peppers hot, and it has been shown that capsaicin resistance in wild species can be bred into domesticated pepper plants. This may make them less likely to be damaged by pests or pathogens, increasing yield (Römer et al. 2012).

In addition, biodiversity provides the raw materials for bioprospecting – searching for useful traits from organisms, like drugs or crop protection products that would then be developed into commercial products by pharmaceutical companies or agri-businesses. The benefit for society here is many drugs and crop protection products that would not exist without biodiversity.

A final, recent example of the benefits of wild biodiversity is how it has been used to develop biofuels (e.g., Jatropha curcas ), chemicals (Salvador et al.), and food (Marselles-Fontanet et al.)

Saxena, D., R. Deck, R. Panguluri, L. Singh, E. Corley, S. Koilkonda, G. Bradshaw, M. Heduan, F.-S Yuen & N. Sharma 1997: “Resistance in papaya to papaya ringspot potyvirus.” Nature 388: 571-572

Römer , S. , Y. Qiu, E. Perrin & G. Klee 2012: “Molecular breeding of Capsicum spp.: progress and challenges.” Trends in plant science 17(7): 370-377

Cabanilla, A., M. Doležel & L.-A. Hjelle 1999: “The Origin of Hawaii’s Papaya Industry and the Role of Biotechnology.” Plant Genome 2: 130-136

Jatropha curcas FAO 2005: “Jatropha curcas – Biodiesel Production from Seed Oil in India.” Bioenergy Bulletin 3(2)


Salvador, R., C. Llosa, N. Seco & J. Escalona 2017: “Bioprospecting of natural products from basidiomycetes for the biotechnological and pharmaceutical industries.” Journal of Biotechnology 265: 1-11

Marselles-Fontanet, A., C. Escobar, S. van der Werf, K.A.G.M. Jansen & M.P.M. van der Poel 2017: “The contribution of wild edible plants to food security in Latin America.” Ecology and Evolution 7(4): 1339-1351

Roe, D., M.E. Palmer, G.D.J. Godinez, F.-X. Jourdan, F.-X. Levillain, P Aplin, B.B. Brinkman, M.P. Griffiths, W. Niu & S.-H Yang 2017: “High genetic diversity of wild chilies ( Capsicum spp.) reflects their origin in Mesoamerica and recent selection by indigenous people.” Journal of Biogeography 44(3): 625-638

Cabanilla, A., L.-A Hjelle & J Miyasato 1999: “Ringspot virus resistance in papaya.” Annual Review of Phytopathology 37: 291-311

van der Werf, S., A Marselles-Fontanet, C Escobar & M P van der Poel 2018: Edible Wild Species Can Increase Food Security for Latin American

List of points how biodiversity is useful :-

1)Biodiversity provides food, or it can feed us.

2)Biodiversity offers new medicines to cure our diseases.

3) Biodiversity cleans the air we breathe and helps combat climate change by absorbing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere.

4)Biodiversity creates fertile soils that support plants and agriculture, which in turn provide people with food, clothing, building materials and more.

5) Biodiversitry enables water filtration – wetlands purify polluted water naturally without chemicals

6) Biodiversity is what makes life on Earth possible for humans as well as all other living things – its about Life itself! . > M any species are threatened with extinction because of habitat loss, poaching, climate change and other human-caused problems. If these species vanish, we will lose valuable insights into the workings of the natural world, and our quality of life will be diminished as a result.

7) Biodiversity is also aesthetically pleasing; it can make us feel happy, peaceful or simply awed.

8) Finally, conserving biodiversity is an ethical obligation – we have a responsibility to protect the planet and everything on it, including the plants and animals with which we share this home.

In conclusion, it’s evident that biodiversity is not only vitally important for the survival of all life on Earth – it’s also something to be cherished and protected for its own sake. We would be wise to do so.

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