Working to understand and conserve genetic diversity

Just catching up on a couple of useful resources.

The Genetics Composition working group aims to develop, test and improve approaches for assessing and interpreting genetic diversity.

You can join it!

And thus contribute to the Genetic diversity targets and indicators proposed for the CBD post-2020 Global Biodiversity Framework. About which you can read more on the work blog, as it happens.

Meanwhile, over at USDA, there are posters on crop diversity and genebanks in multiple languages.

Gotta wonder whether any of this will reach the policy-makers, but one can hope, can’t one?

Stripping back the history of seed conservation

The original Frontiers of Science strips ran from 1961 and was significant as a means of communicating and popularising science. It was Australian and developed from the University of Sydney, and was produced and distributed by Press Feature Service. The series was co-written and produced by Professor Stuart Butler from the School of Physics and journalist and film-maker Bob Raymond. The early art work in the series was by Andrea Bresciani, continued later by David Emersen.

Frontiers of Science came to an end in 1982 with Stuart Butler’s death, but not before putting out at least 25 issues on agricultural topics, including two on crop diversity and its conservation. These date back to 1971, but are still well worth having a look at.

Agrobiodiversity events roundup

There’s a few things going on that readers may be interested in, so here goes, real quick:

  1. Spoiler alert: authenticity isn’t vital to success, but hyper-locality is. []

Brainfood: Topical forages, Ne, Pearl millet nutrition, Sorghum strategy, Tillering rice, Exchanging wheat, Recollecting wheat, Yeast domestication, Amazonian maize, Synthesizing groundnut, Strawberry dispersal, Soya structure, Remote change, Green Revolution, Unintended consequences

Alternative seed sources

Sometimes, seeds of old and interesting crop varieties are not solely (or even at all) available from genebanks. In the US, for example, there are a number of other options, as summarized below by our friend Marty Reisinger, especially aimed at amateur gardeners:

  • Plant Information Online: Operated by the University of Minnesota. Enables searches for specific cultivars.
  • Dave’s Garden: Search over 160,000 plants. Members can chat with other gardeners in their forums.
  • Master Gardeners. Each state has a Master Gardener organization. Follow the link for one near you.

I’m sure there are similar resources for other countries, and wouldn’t it be nice to bring them all together?