- Audio drama on Vavilov. You heard me.
- Proceedings from the First Annual Wild & Seedling Pomological Exhibition. First of many, I hope.
- A really old Phoenician wine press.
- Update on banana genebank data.
I see Jeremy had some fun in his latest newsletter. Want more of the same, every week: subscribe.
Previously, in the Methuselah date story: around 50 years ago archaeologists excavating Masada in Israel dug up a small pile of date seeds. In 2008, to most people’s surprise, one of those seeds — roughly 2000 years old — germinated and was named the Methuselah date. Like its namesake, it proved to be male. Date male and female flowers grow on separate plants, so wails and lamentations accompanied far-fetched plans to tinker with Methuselah.
And it came to pass that in recent years another 32 well-preserved date seeds were set to germinate. And lo, six of them did germinate, and their names were given as Boaz, Eve, Jeremiah, Jonah, Judah and Uriel, and they too were of ancient lineage. And when they came of maturity and revealed unto others their gender, Eve became Adam, and Jeremiah became Hannah and Judah in her turn became Judith.
And Hannah brought forth flowers in their beauty, and the researchers carried the male seed from Methuselah unto Hannah’s flowers and the flowers swelled and were ripened. Then the researchers plucked of the fruits and tasted, and said: “The honey-blonde, semi-dry flesh had a fibrous, chewy texture and a subtle sweetness.”
- Prof. Gayle J. Fritz gets 2020 Mary W. Klinger Book Award for “Feeding Cahokia.” Beyond maize and priests.
- The ups and downs of grape varieties. Airén relinquishes the top spot! So much data: who will calculate diversity stats?
- Nice, long podcast on the beginning of farming in the Fertile Crescent. More coming up.
- “Treasure Trove of Benefits and Variety at the Table” is the sort of cookbook we all need.
- What is it about floating gardens? Quite a lot, really. But they are not easily transplanted, as it were.
- Using remote sensing to assess the effect of trees on millet yield in complex parklands of Central Senegal. Tree cover in the landscape of up to 35% increases pearl millet yields.
- Genetic and genomic resources for improving proso millet (Panicum miliaceum L.): a potential crop for food and nutritional security. All that’s missing is the investment. And, possibly, the trees.
- A high-quality genome of taro (Colocasia esculenta (L.) Schott), one of the world’s oldest crops. Has benefitted from two whole-genome duplications. Now that this investment has been made, I expect to see the crop take off.
- Key traits and genes associate with salinity tolerance independent from vigor in cultivated sunflower. There is a way to increase yield under salinity stress without affecting yield under more benign conditions. Millets and taro should take note.
- Sustainable Cucurbit Breeding and Production in Asia Using Public–Private Partnerships by the World Vegetable Center. WorldVeg presents improved lines and F1 hybrids of bitter gourd (Momordica charantia), tropical pumpkin (Cucurbita moschata), ridge gourd (Luffa acutangula) and sponge gourd (Luffa cylindrica) to private sector breeders at Crop Field Days. Everybody wins. But are there any private sector breeders of millets and taro to take note?
- Crop Wild Phylorelatives (CWPs): phylogenetic distance, cytogenetic compatibility and breeding system data enable estimation of crop wild relative gene pool classification. Predicting crossability of a crop with its wild relatives from whatever data is on hand.
- Evolution and domestication of the Bovini species. They’ve been very promiscuous, and the results can be summarized in one illustration.
- Defining diet quality: a synthesis of dietary quality metrics and their validity for the double burden of malnutrition. Seven dietary metrics out there, none of them perfect.
- Assessing nutritional, health, and environmental sustainability dimensions of agri-food production. Here’s how to make nutrition and health metrics better. Maybe these guys should get together with the above?
- Aztec diets at the residential site of San Cristobal Ecatepec through stable carbon and nitrogen isotope analysis of bone collagen. The men drank more pulque than the women. I wonder if 500 years from now they’ll be judging us like this.
- The unique role of seed banking and cryobiotechnologies in plant conservation. Good summary of the different ex situ approaches available for plants, none of them perfect. The existence of an Exceptional Plant Conservation Network and a Project Baseline for seed genebanks was news to me.
- Making the post-2020 global biodiversity framework a successful tool for building biodiverse, inclusive, resilient and safe food systems for all. The CBD needs to learn to love mixed, diverse agricultural landscapes. And genebanks, natch. Maybe it should invest in dietary metrics.
- The Role of Genetic Resources in Breeding for Climate Change: The Case of Public Breeding Programmes in Eighteen Developing Countries. Business as usual, except more intense. Oh, and perhaps more use of landraces. No word on dietary metrics.