- The benefits of alt-proteins spelled out in a report from the Center for Strategic and International Studies. I bet they’ll need alt-genebanks.
- The US national genebank system expertly deconstructed in a page.
- Bozakmin, the best of the berries, used to contrast late stage capitalism with Indigenous gift economies. Well worth the long read.
- Comment in Nature about how we are not taking fungal diseases of crops sufficiently seriously.
- There’s a place in Ireland with a 6000 year history of farming. Well maybe that’s rounded up a bit.
The latest on the spread of agriculture in Eurasia
Remember the map of the spread of agriculture in Europe that I mashed up with barley genebank accessions a while back? Well, there’s a new version out, according to a tweet from Detlef Gronenborn.
It will eventually make its way here with the previous versions.
Brainfood: Domestication syndrome, Plasticity & domestication, Founder package, Rice domestication, Aussie wild rice, European beans, Old wine, Bronze Age drugs
- Phenotypic evolution of agricultural crops. Plants have evolved to become bigger, less able to run away, and more delicious to herbivores, and breeders can use insights into that domestication process to develop an ideotype for multipurpose crops adapted to sustainable agriculture.
- The taming of the weed: Developmental plasticity facilitated plant domestication. The authors made plants less lazy, more attractive, and easier to cook — all by simply hanging out with them for a season or two. And so did early farmers.
- Revisiting the concept of the ‘Neolithic Founder Crops’ in southwest Asia. The earliest farmers in the Fertile Crescent did not do the above for just a single, standard basket of 8 crops.
- The Fits and Starts of Indian Rice Domestication: How the Movement of Rice Across Northwest India Impacted Domestication Pathways and Agricultural Stories. Rice began to be cultivated in India in the Ganges valley, moved in a semi-cultivated state to the Indus, got fully domesticated there, then met Chinese rice. No word on what else was in the basket.
- Analysis of Domestication Loci in Wild Rice Populations. Australian populations of wild rice have never been anywhere near cultivated rice, but could easily be domesticated.
- Selection and adaptive introgression guided the complex evolutionary history of the European common bean. The first introductions were from the Andean genepool, but then there was introgression from that into the Mesoamerican, and both spread around Europe. A bit like Indian meeting Chinese rice?
- Ancient DNA from a lost Negev Highlands desert grape reveals a Late Antiquity wine lineage. One thousand year old grape pits from the southern Levant can be linked to a number of modern cultivars, which could therefore be adapted to drier, hotter conditions.
- Direct evidence of the use of multiple drugs in Bronze Age Menorca (Western Mediterranean) from human hair analysis. There was probably not a single package of drug plants either.
Brainfood: Pollinator evolution, Pollinator diversity, Livestock, Yak milk consumption, Poultry in situ conservation, Soil stress, Self-domestication, Natural history collections
- The expansion of agriculture has shaped the recent evolutionary history of a specialized squash pollinator. The genetic diversity of an insect crop pollinator has been affected by the fact that it pollinates a crop.
- Native pollinators improve the quality and market value of common bean. The diversity of native insect crop pollinators affects the value of the crop they pollinate.
- A global approach for natural history museum collections. Basically amounts to “ask curators what they have.” Including presumably specimens of insect pollinators. We’ve been doing this for PGRFA for quite a while now, one way or another. Back to mainly plants next week, hopefully, but let’s keep going with animals for now, and let’s see what more we can learn.
- A 12% switch from monogastric to ruminant livestock production can reduce emissions and boost crop production for 525 million people. Ruminants are not all bad after all.
- Permafrost preservation reveals proteomic evidence for yak milk consumption in the 13th century. The Mongols thought this particular ruminant was just great.
- The self-management organization as a way for the in situ conservation of native poultry genetic resources. In response to the promotion of exotic commercial poultry breeds, women’s groups in Mexico have got together and developed rules to protect native hens. Please let not these be among the 12% of monogastrics that get replaced by yaks.
- Increasing the number of stressors reduces soil ecosystem services worldwide. It’s the number of different stressors, more than their aggregate strength, that most affects how badly soils are stressed. Goes for me too, to be honest.
- Elephants as an animal model for self-domestication. I’ll believe it when elephants domesticate yaks.
How Native Americans got their horses
You know how you read in history textbooks that the Native Americans of the Great Plains got hold of horses from retreating Spanish colonists after the Pueblo Revolt of 1680? And you know how Native Americans have been saying that’s not what they think happened? That they in fact got their horses long before that? You know how rare it is that a scientific paper involving museum specimens and DNA includes Indigenous authors? And that said paper overturns a mainstream historical narrative and is then splashed all over the mainstream media? Very rare, that’s how rare.