Biodiv Sci ›› 2023, Vol. 31 ›› Issue (9): 23184.  DOI: 10.17520/biods.2023184

• Special Feature: Construction of the National Botanical Garden System • Previous Articles     Next Articles

Parallel situ conservation: A new plant conservation strategy to integrate in situ and ex situ conservation of plants

Chen Feng1, Jie Zhang1, Hongwen Huang1,2,3,*()   

  1. 1. Lushan Botanical Garden, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Jiujiang, Jiangxi 332900
    2. South China Botanical Garden, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Guangzhou 510650
    3. University of Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing 100049
  • Received:2023-06-04 Accepted:2023-08-29 Online:2023-09-20 Published:2023-10-12
  • Contact: *E-mail:


Background & Aims In the realm of plant conservation, in situ conservation often faces challenges that stem form climate change and unresolved issues. On the other hand, ex situ conservation poses genetic risks linked to the erosion of genetic diversity and genetic drift. This paper conducts a systematic review of the merits and limitations associated with both in situ and ex situ plant conservation. Furthermore, it amalgamates hybridization analysis within natural populations with previous research findings to elucidate the role of long-distance pollen dispersal in gene flow.

Progresses We introduce an innovative conservation approach termed “parallel situ conservation”, which integrates elements of both in situ and ex situ conservation. This methodology is conceived with a focus on the dynamics of gene flow, using pollen dispersal as a means to sustain genetic exchanges between the in situ and ex situ populations. In practice, it is imperative to establish ex situ conservation collections in proximity to or within in situ areas, such as natural reserves, while considering the range of pollen dispersal. This step is crucial in ensuring robust gene flow between ex situ population and their natural populations. This integration allows small ex situ-conserved populations to connect to the gene pool of large natural populations, effectively safeguarding the adaptive evolutionary potential of the ex situ-conserved species, particularly those that are rare and endangered.

Prospect The effectiveness of this approach hinges on species-specific solutions derived from a comprehensive understanding of pollen-mediated gene flow and thoughtful design of ex situ conservation plot. Parallel situ conservation, when combined with other existing plant conservation strategies, holds promise for the future preservation of biodiversity.

Key words: biodiversity, genetic diversity, ex situ conservation, in situ conservation, gene flow