Brainfood: Special citizen science edition

Something for the weekend. I hope you enjoy this special edition of Brainfood focusing on citizen science, Indigenous knowledge and participatory research. Do you like themed Brainfood editions like this? There will be another one on Monday, as it happens. They’re more tricky to produce, but if there’s significant interest I may make the extra effort. Let me know, and suggest topics.

Lay up your dates on earth

I see Jeremy had some fun in his latest newsletter. Want more of the same, every week: subscribe.

Previously, in the Methuselah date story: around 50 years ago archaeologists excavating Masada in Israel dug up a small pile of date seeds. In 2008, to most people’s surprise, one of those seeds — roughly 2000 years old — germinated and was named the Methuselah date. Like its namesake, it proved to be male. Date male and female flowers grow on separate plants, so wails and lamentations accompanied far-fetched plans to tinker with Methuselah.

And it came to pass that in recent years another 32 well-preserved date seeds were set to germinate. And lo, six of them did germinate, and their names were given as Boaz, Eve, Jeremiah, Jonah, Judah and Uriel, and they too were of ancient lineage. And when they came of maturity and revealed unto others their gender, Eve became Adam, and Jeremiah became Hannah and Judah in her turn became Judith.

And Hannah brought forth flowers in their beauty, and the researchers carried the male seed from Methuselah unto Hannah’s flowers and the flowers swelled and were ripened. Then the researchers plucked of the fruits and tasted, and said: “The honey-blonde, semi-dry flesh had a fibrous, chewy texture and a subtle sweetness.”

The New York Times has the story, and there is a bunch of really interesting science behind some of the conjectures.

Brainfood: CGIAR, Genebank data, AI & diseases, Mentha CWR, Tree crops, Carrot diversity, Rice sampling, Perennial rice, Rice de-domestication, Malagasy deforestation, Saving pollinators, Sheep domestication, FFS, Wine signatures

Nibbles: Taxonomic web, Oz restoration tools, ABS in India, Colombian seeds, Old date, Diverse cereals