- 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…
Brainfood: Traits & environment, Acacia growth, Local extinction risk, Lebanese CWR priorities, Malawi CWR payments, Bread wheat origins, Wild lettuce, Ethiopian forages, Editing forages
- Why can’t we predict traits from the environment? Because plants are not collections of independent, isolated traits. All the more reason to study, understand and protect wild plants of economic importance, as the following papers show.
- Differential climatic conditions drive growth of Acacia tortilis tree in its range edges in Africa and Asia. Case in point of the above. Makes germplasm evaluation really hard.
- Understanding local plant extinctions before it is too late: bridging evolutionary genomics with global ecology. Modelling based on the genomic offset (GO) method and the mutations–area relationship (MAR) can help better predict the risk of extinction of different populations.
- Crop wild relatives in Lebanon: mapping the distribution of Poaceae and Fabaceae priority taxa for conservation planning. Bekaa and Baalbak have the highest diversity and the SW the most gaps.
- Community-Level Incentive Mechanisms for the Conservation of Crop Wild Relatives: A Malawi Case Study. Paying communities to conserve crop wild relatives could work and be relatively cheap. Waiting to see this being applied in the Bekaa.
- Population genomics unravels the Holocene history of bread wheat and its relatives. Yeah but crop wild relatives really held back bread wheat domestication. So maybe the Bekaa owes everyone else.
- New insights gained from collections of wild Lactuca relatives in the gene bank of the Institute of Evolution, University of Haifa. Maybe they can gain an insight into how to make lettuce taste of something. And I wonder what environmental variable that will be associated with.
- Climate change and land-use change impacts on future availability of forage grass species for Ethiopian dairy systems. Two forages will do better under climate change, one worse. Assuming a lot of stuff.
- Application of CRISPR/Cas9 technology in forages. But plants are not collections of independent, isolated traits, right?
Dams, damn dams, and accessions
Every once in a while a new dam dataset crops up. Dam, not damn. Well, maybe damn as well. Anyway, when that happens, I feel compelled to mash it up with accession locality data. Because if I don’t do it, who will?
The new dataset is the Global Dam Tracker, and you can download it and everything of course. It’s pretty easy to then upload it to Google Earth and play around with it. Including combining it with data on wild Oryza accessions from Genesys, for example.
On this map, the dams are shown in blue and wild rice accessions in red.
You can zoom in if you’re worried about the long-term in situ future of any given population.
Not for the first time, I wonder about the feasibility of one day automatically and in real time combining data from multiple potential stressors, including dams, to predict the risk of genetic erosion around the world. Something that AI should be able to do, surely?
Brainfood: Why measure genetic diversity?
- Genetic diversity goals and targets have improved, but remain insufficient for clear implementation of the post-2020 global biodiversity framework. The struggle to ensure recognition of the importance of measuring genetic diversity is real, despite the available tools. And despite the range of uses to which the results can be put, as illustrated in the following papers.
- DNA barcoding markers provide insight into species discrimination, genetic diversity and phylogenetic relationships of yam (Dioscorea spp.). Measuring genetic diversity can help you tell species apart.
- Genetic diversity and population structure of barley landraces from Southern Ethiopia’s Gumer district: Utilization for breeding and conservation. Measuring genetic diversity can help you decide what’s new and what to use in breeding.
- Management of genetic erosion: The (successful) case study of the pear (Pyrus communis L.) germplasm of the Lazio region (Italy). Measuring genetic diversity can help you detect genetic erosion and figure out what to do about it.
- Genetic and Pomological Determination of the Trueness-to-Type of Sweet Cherry Cultivars in the German National Fruit Genebank. Measuring genetic diversity can help you fix mistakes in genebanks.
- Genetic diversity and local adaption of alfalfa populations (Medicago sativa L.) under long-term grazing. Measuring genetic diversity can help you identify adaptive genes.
- A common resequencing-based genetic marker data set for global maize diversity. Measuring genetic diversity can help you pinpoint useful flowering genes.
- Genome-wide association study of variation in cooking time among common bean (Phaseolus vulgaris L.) accessions using Diversity Arrays Technology markers. Measuring genetic diversity can help you identify carbon-friendly genes.
- Dissecting the genetic architecture of leaf morphology traits in mungbean (Vigna radiata (L.) Wizcek) using genome-wide association study. Measuring genetic diversity can help you find plants with nice leaves.
- Genetic Diversity Strategy for the Management and Use of Rubber Genetic Resources: More than 1,000 Wild and Cultivated Accessions in a 100-Genotype Core Collection. Measuring genetic diversity can help you go from over 1000 accessions to under 100.
- Sustainable seed harvesting in wild plant populations. Measuring genetic diversity can help you model optimal germplasm collecting strategies.
- Genetics of randomly bred cats support the cradle of cat domestication being in the Near East. Measuring genetic diversity can tell you where the cat was domesticated.
- Bacterial species diversity of traditionally ripened sheep legs from the Faroe Islands (skerpikjøt). Measuring genetic diversity can help you figure out how to ripen sheep legs properly.
Nibbles: Mugumu, Gates, Fixation, OSA, USDA, Panicum, Digitaria, Britgrub, Wheat, ICRISAT, Svalbard
- Blog post on the importance of the mugumu tree in Kikuyu culture.
- Alas, no sign of mugumu trees on the Kenyan farm visited by Bill Gates recently. But there were chickens, drought-tolerant maize and mobile phones…
- …and there may soon be crops engineered for nitrogen fixation too, if his foundation’s project with the University of Cambridge comes through.
- Speaking of maize, here’s a nice illustrated story of how the Organic Seed Alliance is helping farmers grow their own tortilla corn in the Pacific Northwest.
- To generalize and contextualize the above, read this USDA e-book on plant collections and climate change.
- Dr Giedre Motuzaite Matuzeviciute just got a grant to study broomcorn millet domestication and dispersal in Central Asia. There may be lessons for present-day adaptation to climate change, says the blurb.
- There are probably lessons about adaptation to climate change also to be had from Kew’s work on fonio and other traditional crops in Guinea.
- I wonder if Kew boffins are also working on bere, perry and other endangered British foods though.
- It’s always nice to see someone first learn about genebanks, and how they can help with the whole climate change thing.
- Meanwhile, in India, ICRISAT gets a stamp, which however doesn’t look very much like India or ICRISAT to me. Plenty of broomcorn millet in its genebank, by the way.
- Plenty of seeds from the ICRISAT genebank in Svalbard, as Asmund Asdal will no doubt point out on 10 February.