Brainfood: Potato genebanks, Aichi 11, Taming foxes, Fruit diversity, Polyploidy review, Evaluating quinoa, Into Africa, IPCC review, Desiccation tolerance, Pig diversity, Oolong diversity, Wild millet, Sustainable diets

Celebrating Nordic collaboration on crop conservation

The current book is a celebration of 40 years of Nordic collaboration on plant genetic resources.

International perspectives are highlighted and the first chapter is written with input from Axel Diederichsen from Plant Gene Resources of Canada and Igor G. Loskutov from the N.I. Vavilov Institute of Plant Genetic Resources (VIR), and the chapter traces lines back to the pioneers and with a specific focus on Vavilov and how he had influenced scientists in the Nordic countries.

Roland von Bothmer and Peter Tigerstedt give an overview of the Nordic plant breeding and genetic resources.

Jens Weibull discusses the role of NGB (and NordGen) in the European genebank collaboration.

A special section is given to a historical recap of how NGB worked with the Gatersleben gene bank in the early 1980s, at a time when computers were large and collaboration with GDR was not straight forward for western countries, and this section is written with inputs from Jan Engels (former Bioversity International) and Helmut Knüpffer (former IPK Gatersleben).

The data management systems at NGB and NordGen are discussed by inputs from Dag Endresen (former IT leader at NGB, now at University of Oslo).

We also have chapters on the collaboration with VIR and the Baltic States, the 100-years experiment on seed longevity in permafrost, and the Svalbard Global Seed Vault.

Regarding the collections, Roland von Bothmer gives the story of the international Hordeum and Triticeae project and Udda Lundqvist of the Swedish Barley Mutant Collection.

The celebration book is finished by chapters on the NordGen’s Plant Genetic Resource Collection of today with perspectives on conservation and use, amongst others the ongoing Public-Private Partnership project, written by the current staff at the genebank and Anders Nilsson at the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Alnarp.

A special thanks to Helmut Knüpffer, Kit Lundborg, Roland von Bothmer and Sara Landqvist for their comments and proof-readings of this book.

Well worth a read.

Culture, Agriculture, Food & Environment, and genebanks

Dr Helen Anne Curry, Peter Lipton Lecturer in History of Modern Science and Technology at the University of Cambridge, guest edited a special issue on “The Collection and Conservation of Plant Genetic Resources” for the journal Culture, Agriculture, Food & Environment in December.

Looks good. A couple of the papers are even open access. I admit I haven’t read them yet, but I will, and report back.

And watch out for Dr Curry’s new project “From Collection to Cultivation: Historical Perspectives on Crop Diversity and Food Security,” which is launching this year with support from a Wellcome Trust Investigator Award.

Ken Richards RIP

Canadian genebank legend Ken Richards sadly passed away late last year.

In 1996 Ken took over management of Canada’s Plant Genetic Resources with its relocation to Saskatoon from Ottawa. Ken supervised the construction of the new Gene Bank attached to Agriculture and Agri-food Canada at the University of Saskatchewan. Ken and Tim Myers divided in half every packet of the 550,000 packet collection of plant seeds for the transfer. Half of the collection was sent by surface trucks and half of the collection was relocated by a Canadian government Hercules airplane. In subsequent years the plant collection was joined in Saskatoon by the microbial, fruit tree and animal collections. Ken assembled and supervised a wonderful team of scientists who worked from P.E.I. to the B.C. Okanagan. He and Linda and Kimberly lived in beautiful Saskatoon for fifteen years.

Sad.