- 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.
Brainfood: 100 plant science questions, Biodiversity data, Cropland expansion double, CC & yields, Crop diversity & stability, Nutritious crops double, Feminist markets
- One hundred important questions facing plant science: an international perspective. How do we leverage existing genetic diversity to create climate-resilient crops? is only number 3 you say? I’ll take it. And in fact that broad question gets deconstructed in questions 36-71. Now, let’s see how today’s haul of papers relates to that, shall we?
- A strategy for the next decade to address data deficiency in neglected biodiversity. Well, yeah, easy one, clearly you need data to conserve the crop wild relatives that could help you breed those climate-resilient crops.
- Post-2020 biodiversity framework challenged by cropland expansion in protected areas. Apart from anything else, that data would tell you which CWR in protected areas are threatened with cropland expansion, and said CWR could help you with breeding crops that could limit cropland expansion by increasing production on existing cropland. Could, could, could…
- Global Maps of Agricultural Expansion Potential at a 300 m Resolution. That cropland expansion might do less damage in some places than others. Still with me?
- Increased probability of hot and dry weather extremes during the growing season threatens global crop yields. Right, that’s why those CWR might come in useful. Assuming you can still find them with all that cropland expansion.
- Divergent impacts of crop diversity on caloric and economic yield stability. At the state level within the USA, crop species diversity is positively associated with yield stability when yield is measured in $ but negatively when measured in calories. Now do it for genetic diversity.
- Role of staple cereals in human nutrition: Separating the wheat from the chaff in the infodemics age. The benefits of those climate-resilient, more nutritious crops need to be better communicated.
- Simple solutions for complex problems? What is missing in agriculture for nutrition interventions. What does nutritious mean anyway?
- “Whose demand?” The co-construction of markets, demand and gender in development-oriented crop breeding. Who is it that wants those climate-resilient, nutritious crops anyway?
- Take-home message: leveraging existing genetic diversity to create climate-resilient crops might be the easy part.
Nibbles: Robert Chambers, Zero Hunger, China genebank, Spanish bacteria, Harnessing diversity
- There’s a celebration of the thinking of Robert Chambers over at IDS Bulletin. He’s been advocating for participation in development and the importance of Indigenous knowledge, among other things, for 50 years.
- The Center on Global Food and Agriculture has a report out called “Defining the Path to Zero Hunger in an Equitable World” which basically tries to add humanitarian assistance to the old food-climate-biodiversity nexus. Crop diversity is nowhere to be found among the “catalyzing ideas,” but one of those is investing in “force multipliers,” and that includes agricultural research and development. Participatory agricultural research and development, presumably?
- Meanwhile, China has collected 124,000 crop diversity samples.
- And a Spanish microbiologist has collected 3,600 bacteria.
- The PNAS Special feature: Harnessing crop diversity, organized by Susan McCouch, Loren Rieseberg and Pamela Ronald, got a nice write-up in the latest Plant Science Research Weekly. But what would Robert Chambers say? Anyway, should I do a special Brainfood on it? Let me know in the comments, as the cool kids say.
Nibbles: Wild tomatoes, Ghana genebank, India livestock census, USDA coffee breeding, Native Americans & their horses
- It’s pretty rare to have a mainstream media piece on the use of crop wild relatives for climate change adaptation but here we have an example with tomato, so make the most of it. There’s an interesting wrinkle though, so more to come, time permitting.
- It’s even rarer to see a mainstream media piece on genebank staff getting trained. What’s going on out there?
- Not exactly mainstream media, but how many times have you seen an official government press release on its livestock censuses? Anyway, India’s last one was carried out in 2019 and covered 184 breeds of 16 species. Wonder where the data is.
- Speaking of government press releases, here’s one from USDA announcing that it has joined a coffee breeding network. Well, I for one think it’s important.
- And staying in the USA, you know how you read in mainstream textbooks that Native Americans got horses from retreating Spanish colonists after the Pueblo Revolt? And you know how Native Americans have been saying that’s not what they think happened? How rare is it that a scientific paper involving Indigenous authors overturns a mainstream historical narrative and is splashed all over the mainstream media? Very rare, that’s how rare.
Nibbles: Food tree, Wild chocolate, Cacao, Cassava in Africa, Indigenous ABS, Abbasid food, Valuing trees
- Gastropod episode on The Fruit that Could Save the World. Any guesses what that might be?
- Atlas Obscura podcast on an apparently now famous wild-harvested chocolate from Bolivia. But how wild is it really?
- BBC podcast on cacao for balance.
- Forbes touts an African cassava revolution. What, no podcast?
- Very interesting piece from the ever reliable Modern Farmer on how a small seed company called Fedco Seeds designated a bunch of maize landraces as “indigenously stewarded,” and are paying 10% of what they make from the sale of their seeds to a pooled Indigenous fund which goes to support a local, multi-tribal project called Nibezun. A sort of mini-MLS? Definitely worth a podcast. Any takers?
- A long but rewarding article in New Lines Magazine describes medieval cookbooks from the Abbasid caliphate. The recipes make up for the somewhat stilted podcast.
- BGCI publication on how the Morton Arboretum works out whether it should be growing a particular population or species of tree. The trick is to quantify 5 types of “value”: environmental, evolutionary, genetic diversity, horticultural, conservation. Though one could also consider hostorical/cultural, educational and economic value as well. I suspect in the end it comes down to whether it looks nice in an available gap. If I were to do a podcast on this, I’d test it out with the tree in the first of these Nibbles.