Strategizing about conservation of horticultural crops

by Luigi Guarino on August 19, 2014

Another report from one of our correspondents at the International Horticultural Congress:

There were some great discussions during the IHC’s workshop on global conservation strategies for horticultural crops. Few of these exist, and even fewer have actively been implemented. The participants heard from several speakers about the state of development and implementation of the strategies on citrus, strawberry, apple and banana. It appears that the banana strategy, which is currently already in its first revision, is the furthest along the road of implementation — largely thanks to the support of MusaNet. Having the backing of the conservation and use community of a particular crop is key for the development and success of a strategy — and it helps if the community is already organized in some shape or form. The fact that many horticultural fruit crops are not on Annex 1 of the ITPGRFA can really hamper the development and implementation process of global conservation strategies (in fact, so far there are no global conservation strategies for crops which are not on Annex 1) and several participants felt that horticultural crops deserve more recognition under the Treaty.


Freeing the banana

by Luigi Guarino on August 19, 2014

Well, that sounds teasingly intriguing. Fortunately, we have a mole at the relevant symposium of the International Horticultural Congress in Brisbane. Here’s his brief report from the trenches:

Great talk also by Pierre Yves Teycheney, who together with his colleagues at CIRAD seems to have found a way to deal with the problem of the endogenous Banana Streak Virus that is embedded in the Musa B-genome. Since its discovery this virus had essentially brought to a halt CIRAD’s inter-specific hybrid breeding program, and prevented distribution of any hybrid materials that contained the B-genome. Luckily, an allelic difference was detected that renders the virus non-infectious, so researchers at CIRAD managed to develop B-genome materials (through traditional approaches but also doubled haploids) that are homozygous for the non-infections alleles and ‘voila!’ derived non-infectious material is now again flowing through CIRAD’s interspecific hybrid breeding program!

Keep it coming, people!


Standing up for fruits and veggies

by Luigi Guarino on August 18, 2014

The International Horticulture Congress is up and running in Brisbane, and getting a lot of attention from the Aussie media.1 There’s a slick video on the global importance of horticulture to help the frenzy along:

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Apart from the World Vegetable Center — whose DG came up with the quote of the day: “Things like cucumber and cabbage are essentially just water standing up” — ProMusa is also there in force, and making a splash on social media. That’s because of a special symposium on banana genomics, one of a great lineup of side-workshops. The one we’re particularly looking forward to is the 4th International Symposium on Plant Genetic Resources: Genetic Resources for Climate Change. The hashtag for the whole thing is #IHC2014.

No word on whether the black sapote or medicinal willows, both in the news this week, will feature at any point in Brisbane, but, if they don’t, they have a second chance at the next big global research shindig, the International Union of Forest Research Organization’s (IUFRO) 24th World Congress, from 5 to 11 October 2014 in Salt Lake City, Utah, USA. Its theme will be “Sustaining Forests, Sustaining People: The Role of Research.”

As ever, we welcome reports from such events.

  1. Unfortunately, I don’t think a fun feature on fruits in the Bible, from Bible History Daily, was in any way linked in. []



Capsules of Life

15 August 2014

The BBC’s Roots to Riches reaches genebanking for conservation, with the above title. Mainly about the Millennium Seed Bank, which is predictable, and perfectly fine, but we know there’s a lot more to it than that, of course.

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Totally terere

12 August 2014

The launching of FAO’s Traditional Crop of the Month with amaranth, just announced on Twitter, reminds me that I was going to post a couple of photos showing how much the crop is being used nowadays in Kenya. These show that terere leaves are used — along with other stuff — to fortify maize meal, […]

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Brainfood: Azeri grapes, Biodiversity & ecoservices, Ivorian melons, Omani chickens, Insecticides & pollinators, Czech wild wheat, African yams, Livestock breeding, Natural selection, Bean proteins

11 August 2014

Biodiversity and breeding of grapes: a study in Azerbaijan. Long history, 2 main wild types, 600 cultivated varieties, 100 of them threatened. Linkages between biodiversity attributes and ecosystem services: A systematic review. Mainly, but not exclusively, positive. Always complicated. Genetic relationships among accessions of African indigenous melons (Cucumis melo L. ssp. agrestis) using AFLP markers. […]

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Remembering Dorothy Tamasia, barefoot banana curator of the Solomon Islands

10 August 2014

Some bad news from Tony Jansen, via Facebook. He has kindly given us permission to reproduce his post here. This comes after more sad news from the Pacific just a few weeks ago. I’m very sad to hear the tragic news that my very good friend Dorothy Tamasia has died. I dont know the hows […]

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Speaking truth to power

9 August 2014

And much good does it do. @gatesfoundation @BillGates People like @ICRAF @go_vegetables @BioversityInt @ILRI working to get fruits, veg, meat to kids who need them — AgroBioDiverse (@AgroBioDiverse) August 5, 2014 @rajshah @JohnKerry The world's #genebanks, especially those of @CGIAR, are at the root of food security @planttreaty — AgroBioDiverse (@AgroBioDiverse) August 4, 2014

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Vavilov all over

7 August 2014

Just a quick reminder that the BBC’s wonderful From Roots to Riches programme, charting the history of botany, tackles Nikolai Vavilov today. Coincidentally, one of Vavilov’s stamping grounds, Central Asia, has been featuring prominently at the 2014 Festival of Fruit, on now in Portland. Megan Lynch has been tweeting the hell out of it. Well […]

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