- The Museum of Cider has an exhibition on “A Variety of Cultures.”
- Nice podcast rounding up the latest on dog domestication.
- Useful summary of the history of rye in the Nordic countries since it replaced barley in the Medieval period.
- They didn’t give up barley in the Outer Hebrides.
- The Tunisian farmer goes back to wheat landraces (I think).
- The Kenyan farmers who want to exchange landraces.
- El Colombiano visits Future Seeds, evokes The Walking Dead.
- Seed saving resources from the California Seed Bank and the herbarium at the University of California, Berkeley.
- Early human selection of crops’ wild progenitors explains the acquisitive physiology of modern cultivars. The high leaf nitrogen, photosynthesis, conductance and transpiration of crops was already there in their wild relatives, the first farmers just happened to domesticate greedy plants.
- The impact of farming on prehistoric culinary practices throughout Northern Europe. When the first farmers arrived in northern Europe armed with their greedy plants, they learned a lot about food from the local hunter-fisher-gatherers, and vice-versa, but without much interbreeding. Jeremy interviews one of the authors on his podcast.
- Early contact between late farming and pastoralist societies in southeastern Europe. There was extensive interbreeding between farmers and the local transitional foragers/herders before with the expansion of pastoralist groups into Europe from the Eurasian steppes around 3300 BC.
- Isotopes prove advanced, integral crop production, and stockbreeding strategies nourished Trypillia mega-populations. The earliest European mega-settlements, in Ukraine and Moldova, from around 4000 BCE, integrated greedy crops and generous domesticated livestock.
- Inference of Admixture Origins in Indigenous African Cattle. Following introduction from the Near East, domesticated cattle got admixed with a North African extinct aurochs before spreading throughout Africa.
- Flax for seed or fibre use? Flax capsules from ancient Egyptian sites (3rd millennium BC to second century AD) compared with modern flax genebank accessions. Fibre first.
- Revealing the secrets of a 2900-year-old clay brick, discovering a time capsule of ancient DNA. DNA from 34 plant groups were detected inside an old brick when it happened to break.
- Making wine in earthenware vessels: a comparative approach to Roman vinification. Comparison with modern counterparts shows that Roman clay jars for storing wine were integral to the process. No word on whether there was any ancient DNA in the clay.
- Breadfruit in the Pacific Islands, its domestication and origins of cultivars grown in East Polynesia and Micronesia. Spoiler alert: they came from Polynesian Outlier Islands.
Specialism in science being what it is, it’s understandably unusual to see papers which combine combine analysis of genetic diversity in humans over time with that of crops, or indeed livestock. It’s less understandable why it should also be unusual in science journalism, and examples should be celebrated. So hats off to Warren Cornwall for his very readable synthesis in Science of the history of human and crop genetic diversity in the Canaries over the past two thousand years. Well worth a read.
An Evolutionary Approach to the History of Barley (Hordeum vulgare) Cultivation in the Canary Islands.
It’s that time of year again. Yes, the time to exchange bean seeds via the INCREASE project. Read all about it here, and get your beans ready for spring.
- A sustainable blue cheese industry needs more microbial diversity.
- The Open Source Seed Initiative gets written up in The Guardian. Looks like we need something similar for cheese microbes.
- The Guardian then follows up with mung bean breeding and fart jokes.
- But then goes all serious with talk of trillions of dollars in benefits from sustainable food systems. Diversity not mentioned, alas, though, so one wonders about the point of the previous pieces.
- Fortunately Indigeneous Colombian farmers have the right idea about sustainability.
- Collard greens breeders do too, for that matter.
- More African native crops hype for Dr Wood to object to. Seriously though, some crops do need more research, if only so they can be grown somewhere else.
- There’s plenty of research — and art for that matter — on the olive, but the international genebanks could do with more recognition.
- The mezcal agave, on the other hand, doesn’t seem to have much diversity in genebanks, and it is threatened in the wild.
- Perry culture in Germany is also threatened. Pretty sure there are genebanks though.
- This piece about tomato diversity in Spain is worth reading for many reasons (heroic seed saving yada yada), but especially for the deadpan take on the Guardia Civil at the end.
- Maybe we could breed some of those tomatoes to fix their own nitrogen. And get the Guardia Civil to pay for it.