Project in a nutshell


Crop wild relatives utilisation and conservation for sustainable agriculture


Crop Wild Relatives (CWRs) are often seen as the COUSINs of domesticated crops, given their close kinship and their role as important sources of natural genetic variation. Crop diversification and breeding are important tools for achieving the necessary agroecological transition of European food systems, and in this regard CWRs can play a key role as diversity custodians.

Against this background, 25 partners from 12 European countries joined their effort to set up the European Union-funded project COUSIN – Crop Wild Relatives Utilization and Conservation for Sustainable Agriculture.

The COUSIN main objectives are to: 

  • IDENTIFY pathways to use CWRs to strengthen sustainable agriculture;
  • RECOGNIZE preferred in situ genetic reserves;
  • DETERMINE stakeholder-demanded characteristics of CWRs;
  • IMPLEMENT CWRs into breeding and farming activities,
  • PROVIDE information about CWRs in an accessible format to stakeholders and potential users;
  • TRAIN AND RISE awareness about the value of CWRs in the society.


Moreover, COUSIN will develop a trans situ conservation strategy that coordinates in situ and ex situ approaches for an efficient and effective conservation of CWRs.

To reach these objectives COUSIN will focus its activities on five flagship crops, as main representatives of important crop types (cereals, legumes, leafy greens, vegetables and oilseed crops):


Triticum aestivum


Hordeum vulgare


Pisum sativum


Lactuca sativa


Two species: B. oleracea and B. napus