Phenological diversity for nutrition

by Luigi Guarino on August 5, 2015

A recent blog post by the World Agroforestry Centre described their idea of a “fruit tree portfolio” to provide all-round nutrition. In Kenya, where this is being tested out, these would be the species involved:

Table-portfolio

A nice idea, and it reminded me that you can also do something similar by exploiting within-species diversity. The example I know comes from Diane Ragone’s work on breadfruit. This is from a presentation she gave recently.

breadfruit

Great to have diversity at different levels to play around with.

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Agrobiodiversity illustrated then and now

by Luigi Guarino on August 5, 2015

There really is nothing like photos of agricultural biodiversity to set the pulse racing. Well, at least in our weird little corner of cyberspace. It’s been crazy over on Twitter and Facebook, what with frenzied sharing of, and commenting on, a couple of stories about, of all things, watermelons. Well, it is summer, I guess: they don’t call it the silly season for nothing.

To recap for those who do not follow us on other media,1 people seem to have really been impressed by the photos which accompanied a story on the sequencing of the watermelon genome. Although it dates back to three years ago, for some reason it resurfaced again last week.

Flesh diversity from undomesticated to domesticated watermelon. These watermelon plants were grown at Syngenta Woodland station in CA.

Flesh diversity from undomesticated to domesticated watermelon. These watermelon plants were grown at Syngenta Woodland station in CA.

It may well have been resurrected because of a Vox.com story on how James Nienhuis, a horticulture professor at the University of Wisconsin, is using Renaissance paintings of watermelons and other produce to illustrate the changes that have been wrought by modern plant breeding. The story was later taken up by others, and bounced around a lot. And all long before National Watermelon Day.

Albert Eckhout 1610-1666 Brazilian fruits

Well, let me add to the hysteria. Courtesy of my friend Dr Yawooz Adham, here’s another fantastic agrobiodiversity photo, of tomatoes this time.

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The farmer’s name is Shiek Jamally Karbanchi and he lives in a village near the town of Chamchamal, between Kirkuk and Sulaymaniyah in Iraqi Kurdistan. He tends 22 different tomato varieties, and is clearly incredibly proud of them. Though I’m pretty sure he doesn’t charge Euros 20 each for them. I don’t know if they’re all commercial varieties or whether there’s a few local heirlooms in there, but either way it’s damn impressive.

Footnotes:
  1. And why don’t you? []
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Brittle rachis in barley, in one diagram

by Luigi Guarino on August 4, 2015

barleyOh gosh, I’m really liking this graphical abstract idea. But would it have killed them to have a map in the background?

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Princely state of the British apple

by Luigi Guarino on August 4, 2015

Our readers have known for some years now that HRH Prince Charles has taken over a collection of apple varieties. Not so readers of the Sunday Times, apparently. Unfortunately, the article describing the Prince’s efforts to save the British apple is behind a paywall, so we cannot for now say whether it adds anything to the story we already knew. Maybe someone out there with a subscription can help us.

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SDGs recognize agrobiodiversity and genebanks

3 August 2015

The final version (pdf) of the Post-2015 Development Agenda was posted online about a day or so back after an all-nighter in New York. For those who are just waking up, read the final version of the Post-2015 Development Agenda here http://t.co/c9PHgLvHCE #SDGs #Post2015 — UN Sustainable Dev. (@SustDev) August 1, 2015 I’m glad to […]

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Ghana to develop vegetables, but which ones?

3 August 2015

A new regional laboratory in Ghana is seeking to develop the vegetable industry through research, development and innovation to improve food and nutritional security in West Africa. It will do this through increased use of indigenous vegetables… Well, that’s interesting. But which indigenous vegetables? Garden egg? Bitterleaf? There are plenty, and they’re really important in […]

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Prize for plants programme

3 August 2015

It’s not clear whether it was due to her magisterial BBC programme Plants: From Roots to Riches, but Prof. Kathy Willis has won the Royal Society’s prestigious Michael Faraday Prize for excellence in communicating science to UK audiences. You’ll remember the programme features genebanks quite prominently. Well worth listening to. Congratulations to Prof. Willis, who […]

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Brainfood: Vavilov then & now & always, Helmeted fowl diversity, MLND resistance, Sorghum diversity, Facilitation, Rice yields, Biodiversity services, Wild tomato diversity, Date diversity

3 August 2015

In the Footsteps of Vavilov: Plant Diversity Then and Now. The Pamiri Highlands of Tajikistan, the Ethiopian Highlands, and the Colorado Plateau of Southwestern North America compared at time of Vavilov and now: “Localities that have retained diversity have suffered the least.” Vavilovian Centers of Plant Diversity: Implications and Impacts. “His concept of specific centers […]

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EU springs into action on olive plague

3 August 2015

That whole Xylella fastidiosa attacking olives in Puglia story? Shit just got real. The French are burning trees in Corsica. And the European Commission has come out with a factsheet. This explains that …there are four different subspecies of Xylella fastidiosa and that the strain identified in Apulia is a new genetic variant which has […]

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New seeds for India, but from where?

2 August 2015

Surprising, though in a good way, to see a Government of India press release listing newly-released flood and drought resistant varieties of a number of staple and crash crops. What I’d like to know is how many of them owe their existence to material that breeders sourced from genebanks, either India’s own national system or […]

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