Nibbles: Turkish roses, Old apple tree, Kenyan reforestation, Pillar coral, ICARDA, Comical CWR

One Reply to “Nibbles: Turkish roses, Old apple tree, Kenyan reforestation, Pillar coral, ICARDA, Comical CWR”

  1. ICARDA genebank: The author, Schapiro attempts, to link two separate issues.
    One is the threats posed to the ICARDA seed store in Syria. This threat is totally overblown. The article records that in: “the spring of 2016, when Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s military started bombarding Aleppo and the surroundings towns, including Tal Hadya. The remaining scientists loaded up the seeds in a truck and raced across the Lebanese frontier…” These `saved’ seeds were only 6,000 accessions. The reality is that the bulk of the ICARDA seed store – 77,949 samples – had been deposited for safety in the permafrost seed store on the Norwegian island of Svalbard by 2010. Routine deposit by ICARDA in Svalbard included 862 samples of Aegilops on 26/2/2008; 1044 samples on 24/2/2009; 448 samples 16/2/2011; 359 samples 1/3/2012; 20 samples 21/11/2013; 74 samples 25/2/2014; and 1224 on24/2/2017.
    The second issue confused by Schapiro is more egregious. It implies that these very seeds of a wild grass variety `smuggled’ out of Syria were used by US researchers to combat Hessian fly, with the smuggled seeds being of subsequent great value to US wheat farmers.
    • Most of the ICARDA seeds were not smuggled out of Syria. They were sent as a routine shipment for storage in Svalbard (which now contains almost 1,000,000 samples from various national and international seed stores). Aegilops details above.
    • The wild grass sample (Aegilops tauschii) used for resistance to Hessian fly was not from Syria but Iran. It was collected by an expedition from Kyoto University (1955?] with the number KU-2147 and subsequently widely distributed.
    • Work by US plant scientist on Hessian Fly resistance from Aegilops tauschii has been going on for at least two decades – long before the Civil War in Syria.
    Schapiro has a book coming out soon: who is he getting advice from?

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