Yes, we have plenty of banana information

I’ve come across a number of banana-related resources lately, so I thought I’d pull them all together in one post.

First, there’s, from Bioversity, which “aims to collect, to make available and to share spatial information on global banana production in a single centralized database.”

Then there’s “Banana natural biodiversity mapping,” from iNaturalist. It’s objective is “to map the distribution of CWRs and landraces in primary and secondary centers of diversity” through crowdsourcing. Which I suppose could eventually be added to the more conventionally sourced data in the CWR Atlas.

And finally there’s blog post from IITA describing a project to document banana diversity in the Democratic Republic of Congo using morphological traits that have been overlooked in the past. I assume the data will find its way into the Musa Germplasm Information System. And thence to Genesys.

All these contribute to answering a question that I asked here back in 2010: Where do bananas grow anyway? What I still don’t see, though, is a way to bring all this information together in one place.

And, given that there’s collecting going on as we speak, for example, the information — and the need — will only grow:

How to treat those seeds right

The scientific program of this workshop will place seed longevity into a conservation context: ex situ conservation of genetic resources through in situ conservation of wild habitat. The role of seeds in conservation efforts is often marginalized or understated as simply a ‘means to an end.’ Yet, seed longevity is often the basis of successful conservation efforts because it underpins successful stand re-establishment after disturbance, efficient maintenance of crop diversity, and effective management decisions for commercial seed lots. Seed longevity is a complex trait, in which the environment of growth, harvest, processing and storage may interact in unpredictable ways with inherent seed traits. The longevity phenotype itself is difficult to measure as it encompasses both potential and risk, both of which can only be realized in the future.

“This workshop” is the 2nd Seed Longevity Workshop, at Ft Collins, Colorado, 30 July – 1 August 2018. Looks unmissable. I particularly like this bit from the programme:

Time will be reserved in each late afternoon for discussion of current and potentially controversial issues over refreshments:

  • Using accelerated conditions to forecast longevity; we do it for food and drugs, why not seeds? (led by Olivier Leprince and Julia Buitink, INRA France)
  • Improving seed banking best practices and standards (led by Fiona Hay, Aarhus Univ, Denmark)
  • What about seeds that don’t fit the longevity models? – intermediate/recalcitrant and exceptional (sensu Pence) seed paradigms (leaders TBD)

I hadn’t heard of “exceptional” species, but it turns out it just means those which are troublesome to conserve as seeds, because either recalcitrant or just not very prolific.

Anyway, looks like a lot of cool people will be there.

Where to find stressed rice in Nigeria

So last week’s Brainfood led with a paper mapping various abiotic stresses affecting rice in Africa, noting that the next step would be to mash up the results with germplasm provenances.

Well, I decided to do it myself. Here’s the distribution of “iron-rich soils” in Nigeria and potentially affected rice area (the paper’s Fig. 8b), the latter coming from the SPAM project we have alluded to before as a source of data on crop cultivation.

The yellow rings are African rice landraces, the red dots all rice landraces, both from Genesys. If you click on the map, you’ll see it much better, and notice that there’s not much rice germplasm from the more brownish areas, denoting rice cultivation areas with Fe-richer soils. Should these be targets for collecting? Kind of depends if landraces are still grown in those places, but it’s a start.

Brainfood: Vine breeding, Moroccan veggie erosion, Potato charisma, Pigeonpea diversity, Dietary diversity, Cannabis breeding, Cattle domestication, Late blight gene