Nibbles: Coffee & chocolate redux, American Indian food, Crop seed size, Oca breeding club, Black chicken, Deadly lychees, Arctic potatoes, Eat this animal-derived food

9 Replies to “Nibbles: Coffee & chocolate redux, American Indian food, Crop seed size, Oca breeding club, Black chicken, Deadly lychees, Arctic potatoes, Eat this animal-derived food”

  1. Larger seeds in cultivated plants: `Well I never’ indeed – the paper seems to come to a pathetic conclusion, mainly as it links seed size to seedling size – so coco-de-mar has a larger seedling than Poa annua. Its also not true of two other counts – large seed does not necessarily mean large yields; and also seed in domesticates is not always larger than wild ancestors. I’m writing a paper on this.


    “In several crops large seeds – supposedly an indicator of domestication – only increased in size long after initial domestication. For example, Fig 4.b in Araus et al. (2014) shows that for a period from 11.7 to 8.5 ky cal BP the kernel weights of wild and domesticated barley were comparable and did not change. The Kew Seed Information Database (2016) shows the seed weigh of African cultivated rice Oryza glaberrima as 26.5mg whereas the wild relative Oryza longistaminata has a seed weight of 27.1mg (calculated from the 1000 seed weight). Rowley-Conwy and Layton (2011) note the same: it was impossible to distinguish between wild barnyard grass (Echinochloa crus-galli) and its domestic relative Japanese millet Echinochloa esculenta; the same is true for species of Setaria (domesticated foxtail millet) and its wild relatives. In the case of pearl millet (Pennisetum glaucum) in West Africa, non-shattering – a marker for domestication – evolved earlier than the start of grain size increase (Manning et al. 2011).

    Araus, J. L., Ferrio, J. P., Voltas, J., Aguilera, M., and Buxó, R. (2014). Agronomic conditions and crop evolution in ancient Near East agriculture. Nature Communications, 5(3953), 1–9.

    Royal Botanic Gardens Kew. (2016) Seed Information Database (SID). Version 7.1. Available from: (December 2016)

    Manning, K., Pelling, R., Higham, T., Schwenniger, J. L., & Fuller, D. Q. (2011). 4500-Year old domesticated pearl millet (Pennisetum glaucum) from the Tilemsi Valley, Mali: New insights into an alternative cereal domestication pathway. Journal of Archaeological Science, 38(2), 312–322.

    Rowley-Conwy, P., and Layton, R. (2011). Foraging and farming as niche construction: stable and unstable adaptations. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society of London. Series B, Biological Sciences, 366(1566), 849–862.

  2. Deadly fruit: It’s the same toxin that killed Dorothy, wife of Wilson Popenoe, a significant genetic resource collector in Central America. She ate unripe akees, containing hypoglycin.

  3. I am curious to know that in what form potato collections will be conserved in SGSV – tissue culture or cryopreserved meristems? Please clarify.

  4. Please help, I read a very interesting post on the development of a bean P. vulgaris x tepary bean as a heat tolerant producer, but now can’t find it. By the way, It makes my day reading the weblog.

  5. thank you but it was about heat tolerance in beans by crossing hardy tepary with common Phaseolus vulgaris varieties, South American research (Colombia)

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