- Genetic diversity of the cultivated vanilla in Madagascar. Lots of genetic groups based on SNPs, but not structured in space or environmentally, except maybe by altitude.
- Genetic diversity, population structure, and genome-wide association study for the flowering trait in a diverse panel of 428 moth bean (Vigna aconitifolia) accessions using genotyping by sequencing. NW India is a centre of diversity.
- Chromosome-level genome assembly and population genomic resource to accelerate orphan crop lablab breeding. Two domestication “events,” with the 2-seeded form originating in Ethiopia.
- Reference proteomes of five wheat species as starting point for future design of cultivars with lower allergenic potential. Einkorn is really low in potential allergens.
- Nazareno Strampelli and the first Green Revolution. And all without SNPs, GWAS, genomes or proteomes.
- Developments on Core Collections of Plant Genetic Resources: Do We Know Enough? Do we ever?
- Assessing Genetic Distinctness and Redundancy of Plant Germplasm Conserved Ex Situ Based on Published Genomic SNP Data. Looks like we may know enough for some things after all.
- An (un)common remedy to Indigenous communities’ subsistence: revisiting Traditional Knowledge Commons. As we delve deeper and deeper into the genetic diversity of collections, let’s not forget the associated Indigenous Knowledge.
- Diversity of sambals, traditional Indonesian chili pastes. Case in point? Any allergens though, I wonder?
Nibbles: Alt-proteins, NPGS, Serviceberry, Fungal diseases, Old Irish farm
- 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.
Nibbles: Iron beans, Tree projects, Lablab genome, Tree collection management, Italian cooking, Replacing ugali, Gene-edited teff, Communicating plant breeding, Plant diseases, Sustainable intensification, Transforming African ag, Ag research investment, Saving seeds, Ukraine genebank
- Jeremy continues to dig deep into biofortification, and is not happy with what he finds out about iron-rich beans.
- Maybe he’ll donate to one of CIFOR-ICRAF’s nutrition-flavoured tree projects instead.
- Don’t worry, maybe lablab can be biofortified now that we have its genome.
- Speaking of trees, if you want to plant one in a particular botanic garden or arboretum, is it likely to thrive, now and in the future? Find out using the BGCI Climate Assessment Tool.
- Speaking of botanic gardens and arboreta, here are some resources on how they manage their tree collections.
- Prof. Alberto Grandi debunks the many myths of Italian cuisine.
- Christine Gatwiri doesn’t think maize can be replaced in Kenyan cuisine. I just hope it can be replaced in Italian cuisine.
- Will gene-edited teff finds its way into Ethiopian cuisine? And would it be a bad thing if it did? It depends on being open about it I guess…
- … so let’s remind ourselves of some ways plant breeding can usefully engage with the public, shall we?
- And let’s also remind ourselves that plant breeding is necessary, for example to protect our food supply against diseases. The Guardian has receipts.
- Prof. Glenn Denning doubles down on the whole better-maize-seeds-plus-fertilizer thing in Africa, but adds some greenery. In more senses than one. So yes, trees are allowed. And maybe even lablab and teff for all I know. Incidentally, the above gene-edited teff is shorter than “normal”, which could mean it might respond to more fertilizer in the same way as those Green Revolution wheats and rices once did.
- Ah yes, the “transformation” and “revolution” tropes are definitely all over the discourse on African agriculture these days. According to this article, what transformation and revolution will require are consistent planning, political backing, a fit-for-purpose lead organization and that perennial favourite, result-oriented implementation. No word here on greenery specifically, but at least it’s not ruled out.
- And to back all that up, CGIAR gets The Economist Impact to say that more funding is needed for agricultural research and innovation. Results-oriented, naturally.
- Meanwhile, in Suriname, Bangladesh and Guinea-Bissau, local people are saving their traditional seeds and agricultural practices. The revolution will eat its own (seeds).
- Phew, the Ukrainian seed collection is squared away. Now for Suriname, Bangladesh, Guinea-Bissau…
Nibbles: Transformation, MAHARISHI, Pastoralists and climate change, Utopian okra, Landrace breeding, Ghana genebank, Indian community seedbank, Rice pan-genome, Perennial rice
- Towards resilient and sustainable agri-food systems. Summary report from the FORSEE Series of Töpfer Müller Gaßner GmbH (TMG). Take home message: We need an internationally agreed framework for agri-food systems transformation that reduces the externalities of the current systems. But how?
- Chair Summary and Meeting Outcome of the G20 Meeting of Agricultural Chief Scientists 2023. “We highlight the importance of locally adapted crops for the transition towards resilient agriculture and food systems, enhancing agricultural diversity, and improving food security and nutrition.” And that includes the wonderfully named Millets And OtHer Ancient GRains International ReSearcH Initiative (MAHARISHI). Ah, so that’s how.
- Are pastoralists and their livestock to blame for climate change? Spoiler alert: It’s complicated, but no. And here’s a digest of resources from the Land Portal explaining they can be part of sustainable and resilient agri-food systems.
- The Utopian Seed Project is developing more climate-resilient okra in the southern USA.
- Joseph Lofthouse, Julia Dakin, Shane Simonsen and Simon Gooder — interviewed here about landrace-based breeding — would approve of utopian okra.
- Plenty of landraces in the Ghana national genebank, according to this mainstream media article.
- Also plenty of landraces in India’s community seedbanks.
- Professor Zhang Jianwei at the National Key Laboratory of Crop Genetic Improvement, Huazhong Agricultural University has built an rice pan-genome database based on 16 (landraces presumably) accessions representing all the major sub-populations. The technical details are here. Rice sustainability and resilience no doubt beckons. Okra next?
- No, perennial rice next, apparently.
The cost of tomatoes
I don’t know whether the article in The Media Line1 a few days ago entitled “Israeli Scientists Develop Drought-Resistant Tomatoes in Response to Climate Change” was based on a press release. But if it wasn’t, it’s a pretty good catch, given the paper on which it is based is called “Epistatic QTLs for yield heterosis in tomato.”2
Anyway, what the authors of the paper did was cross a wild tomato with a cultivated one, which conjured up about 1,500 different progenies, each with a different bit of wild genome. They then figured out which of those bits of genome were good at allowing their possessor to grow well with less water than normal.
According to our Trusted Mideast News source:
The study found that two specific areas in the plant’s genome lead to a 20%-50% increase in the overall yield in both regular and dry conditions. The overall size of the plant also was improved.
According to the researchers, the findings demonstrate the effectiveness of using wild species to enhance agricultural output. They could also prove to be widely applicable to other plants in the future.
Which got me thinking. Effective, sure. But how long did it take? Digging a little deeper revealed that the work relied on a genome of the wild tomato Solanum pennellii that was published in 2017. But that’s not where it all started:
…we sequenced and assembled the accession LA5240 (LYC1722) of the wild tomato species Solanum pennellii, an accession that was identified spuriously. Unlike the Solanum pennellii accession LA0716, for which we have previously generated a high quality draft genome, the accession LA5240 does not appear to exhibit any dwarfed, necrotic leaf phenotype when introgressed into modern tomato cultivars.
And that LA0716 was sequenced in 2014.
So our new climate-change-proof tomato was almost 10 years in the making and relied on a “spuriously” identified accession. Well done and all, but gosh, I hope the next one is easier.
Oh, and here’s a nice detail to close. The LA in LA5204? It stands for “Lost Accession.” What’s the story there, I wonder?
- Strap line: Trusted Mideast News. [↩]
- It’s part of the PNAS Special Feature: Harnessing Crop Diversity. [↩]