- Palaeogenomics of Upper Palaeolithic to Neolithic European hunter-gatherers. Farmers may have pushed hunter-gatherers to the northern edge of Europe while also in mixing with them.
- Identification and exploitation of wild rye (Secale spp.) during the early Neolithic in the Middle Euphrates valley. Those Europeans on the move — both farmers and hunter-gatherers — would have been familiar with wild rye, but that’s pretty much gone from the Fertile Crescent now.
- Caribbean Deep-Time Culinary Worlds Revealed by Ancient Food Starches: Beyond the Dominant Narratives. But enough about Europe. It wasn’t always all about cassava in the pre-colonial, and indeed colonial, Caribbean…
- Reuniting the Three Sisters: collaborative science with Native growers to improve soil and community health. …as there was also the maize/beans/squash system in that part of the world, and may well be again.
- Understanding Early Modern Beer: An Interdisciplinary Case-Study. Something else that could come back is early modern Irish beer, and I’d be there for that.
- Forgotten forest relics: Apple trees (Malus spp.) in eastern U.S. forests. Old abandoned orchards, and escapes therefrom, could have lots of interesting apple diversity. Early modern American cider, anyone?
- Building a feral future: Open questions in crop ferality. And it’s not just apples. It’s a whole movement in fact.
- Resynthesized Rapeseed (Brassica napus): Breeding and Genomics. Sure, we can rebuild it, we have the technology. But will it go feral on us again?
Pieter Breughel the Younger, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons
Nibbles: ICRISAT breeding, India climate change, Seed catalogues, Karabakh horse
- New ICRISAT varieties of sorghum, pearl millet and pigeonpea are doing well in drought-hit Kenya. For now, at least: something to keep an eye on. Genebanks and breeding to the rescue?
- It’s behind a Times of India paywall, alas, but this seems to be an article about the effects of a very warm February on wheat, vegetables and grapes in that country.
- Spring is coming to the northern hemisphere, so of course The New Yorker has a piece on the allure of seed catalogues. I hope there are drought-tolerant and heat-resistant varieties in there. And that they’re clearly labelled as such.
- Meanwhile, oblivious of it all, AramcoWorld has an elegiac piece on the revival of the Karabakh horse in Azerbaijan. Beautiful plumage.
Nibbles: Vavilov, Argentine genebank, Millennium Seed Bank, Indian millets, Community seedbank, Creative finance, Healthy diets, African agriculture
- The Living Library of Resilience is a great name for what Nikolai Vavilov put together, and this longish piece from Maria Popova at The Marginalian is a great tribute to a great man.
- Vavilov’s example is being followed in Argentina, it seems, with the establishment of another genebank, in Corrientes.
- The Millennium Seed Bank reaches an important milestone. Vavilov would be proud.
- Can’t help thinking Vavilov would also wholeheartedly approve of grassroots Indian efforts to bring back millets, as usefully summarized The Locavore. Could have said a bit more about genebanks, though.
- Even genebanks like that of farmers such as Manas Ranjan Sahu. You don’t have to run an institute like Vavilov to build a genebank.
- The Global Alliance for the Future of Food and Transformational Investing in Food Systems Initiative (TIFS) have a report out on Mobilizing Money and Movements: Creative Finance for Food Systems Transformation. No genebanks in there either, alas, but there could so easily have been.
- FAO says billions of people in the world cannot afford a healthy diet, and it has the data to prove it. Does that mean genebanks are not doing their job (eg on nutrient dense orphan crops)? Or doing it too well (eg on the major calorie-rich staples)?
- African worthies say that we need to ramp up investment in the adaptation of agriculture on the continent to climate change. I hope that will include investment in Living Libraries of Resilience that conserve all manner of interesting local crops and varieties. And creative finance for them of course.
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.