How to treat those seeds right

The scientific program of this workshop will place seed longevity into a conservation context: ex situ conservation of genetic resources through in situ conservation of wild habitat. The role of seeds in conservation efforts is often marginalized or understated as simply a ‘means to an end.’ Yet, seed longevity is often the basis of successful conservation efforts because it underpins successful stand re-establishment after disturbance, efficient maintenance of crop diversity, and effective management decisions for commercial seed lots. Seed longevity is a complex trait, in which the environment of growth, harvest, processing and storage may interact in unpredictable ways with inherent seed traits. The longevity phenotype itself is difficult to measure as it encompasses both potential and risk, both of which can only be realized in the future.

“This workshop” is the 2nd Seed Longevity Workshop, at Ft Collins, Colorado, 30 July – 1 August 2018. Looks unmissable. I particularly like this bit from the programme:

Time will be reserved in each late afternoon for discussion of current and potentially controversial issues over refreshments:

  • Using accelerated conditions to forecast longevity; we do it for food and drugs, why not seeds? (led by Olivier Leprince and Julia Buitink, INRA France)
  • Improving seed banking best practices and standards (led by Fiona Hay, Aarhus Univ, Denmark)
  • What about seeds that don’t fit the longevity models? – intermediate/recalcitrant and exceptional (sensu Pence) seed paradigms (leaders TBD)

I hadn’t heard of “exceptional” species, but it turns out it just means those which are troublesome to conserve as seeds, because either recalcitrant or just not very prolific.

Anyway, looks like a lot of cool people will be there.

A Nibble big enough to choke on

Yeah, yeah, it’s been quiet here for the best part of a month. Work, you know. When you notice lack of action here, though, that doesn’t mean that I’m being completely idle. Not always, anyway. Check on Twitter and Facebook, if you dare, and you’ll see new stuff on a fairly regular basis, because that’s easier to do than a fully-fledged blog post. Anyway, what I’ll do here is a mega-Nibble hoovering up snippets from the past few weeks that I posted on social media but not here.

Brainfood: Mesoamerican fruits, PES, Chinese vegetables, Controlled pollination, Pastoralist fodder, Taxonomy, African nightshades, Ag origins, Divortification

Brainfood: Tunisian carrots, Benin & CC, Tree variation, Grape phenotyping, Small ruminant domestication, Rio herbarium, Barley domestication, Millet groupings, Greek cheese

Lost rice found, again

First there was Carolina Gold. Now there is “upland red bearded” or “Moruga Hill” rice.

Mr. Dennis had heard about hill rice…through the culinary organization Slow Food USA and the Carolina Gold Rice Foundation, the group that brought back Carolina Gold in the early 2000s. He’d also heard stories about it from elderly cooks in his community. Like everyone else, he thought the hill rice of the African diaspora was lost forever.

But then, on a rainy morning in the Trinidad hills in December 2016, he walked past coconut trees and towering okra plants to the edge of a field with ripe stalks of rice, each grain covered in a reddish husk and sprouting spiky tufts.

“Here I am looking at this rice and I said: ‘Wow. Wait a minute. This is that rice that’s missing,’” he said.

It is hard to overstate how shocked the people who study rice were to learn that the long-lost American hill rice was alive and growing in the Caribbean. Horticulturists at the Smithsonian Institution want to grow it, rice geneticists at New York University are testing it and the United States Department of Agriculture is reviewing it. If all goes well, it may become a commercial crop in America, and a menu staple as diners develop a deeper appreciation for African-American food.

And no, they couldn’t have found it in genebanks. This is what Genesys knows from the region. Trinidad is shown by the yellow marker, rice accessions in red. No rice accessions in Genesys from anywhere near Trinidad, alas.

Someone should really have a systematic look at all those red dots, though.