- Mineral nutrient composition of vegetables, fruits and grains: The context of reports of apparent historical declines. Apparent being the operative word. This is a couple of years old but always worth recycling. (There’s also this Politico piece from a couple of years back on the “nutrient collapse.”)
- Phenolic composition and antioxidant properties of ex-situ conserved tomato (Solanum lycopersicum L.) germplasm. But there’s always room for improvement.
- Genetic Diversity and Population Structure of Tomato (Solanum lycopersicum) Germplasm Developed by Texas A&M Breeding Programs. Plenty of diversity out there for it.
- Crop productivity as related to single-plant traits at key phenological stages in durum wheat. On isolated plants, only specific leaf weight and spike partitioning at anthesis were correlated with population yield.
- The potential of genomics for restoring ecosystems and biodiversity. From improved seed sourcing to gene editing for funky genotypes.
- Was the Green Revolution intended to maximise food production? No, apparently it was to encourage a move to commercial production in specific areas.
- Musa balbisiana genome reveals subgenome evolution and functional divergence. The starch synthesis pathway is more active than in the A-subgenome. There’s probably more, but that’s all I could understand.
- Pixelating crop production: Consequences of methodological choices. Crop prices and market access had little effect on the robustness of the SPAM2005 spatial production allocation model.
- Phylogenetic and population structural inference from genomic ancestry maintained in present‐day common wheat Chinese landraces. 3000 old wheat not dissimilar to current landraces in W China.
- Stacking three late blight resistance genes from wild species directly into African highland potato varieties confers complete field resistance to local blight races. But it’s GM so it doesn’t count, right?
- Genomic signatures of seed mass adaptation to global precipitation gradients in sorghum. Drought stress led to bigger grains.
- Nitrogen addition reduced ecosystem stability regardless of its impacts on plant diversity. Stability depends on more than just diversity. In grasslands.
- A brief agricultural history of cannabis in Africa, from prehistory to canna-colony. Decolonise the weed.
- Genetic Gain Over 30 Years of Spring Wheat Breeding in Brazil. 1.3% per year. Is it enough? Can it be sustained?
- The Use of Wild Relatives of Safflower to Increase Genetic Diversity for Fatty Acid Composition and Drought Tolerance. So transgressive.
- Transforming agricultural land use through marginal gains in the food system. A nudge here, a nudge there, pretty soon you’re talking about a revolution.
- Exploitation of diversity within farmers’ durum wheat varieties enhanced the chance of selecting productive, stable and adaptable new varieties to the local climatic conditions. Some landraces are pretty good.
- Enset in Ethiopia: a poorly characterized but resilient starch staple. Some local crops are pretty good.
- Market‐led options to scale up legume seeds in developing countries: Experiences from the Tropical Legumes Project. Ah yes, PPPs.
- Global mapping of soil salinity change. A billion hectares and increasing. We’re going to need all the above.
- Integrating a newly developed BAC-based physical mapping resource for Lolium perenne with a genome-wide association study across a L. perenne European ecotype collection identifies genomic contexts associated with agriculturally important traits. “Clearly this is not an end-point for L. perenne genomics…” Ok, call me when you get there.
- A high-quality genome of Eragrostis curvula grass provides insights into Poaceae evolution and supports new strategies to enhance forage quality. “Understanding and subsequently manipulating the genetic drivers underlying apomixis could revolutionize agriculture.” Ok, call me when you get there.
- Many unreported crop pests and pathogens are probably already present. Especially in China, India, southern Brazil and some countries of the former USSR.
- Compositional Analysis of Genetically Engineered GR2E “Golden Rice” in Comparison to That of Conventional Rice. Only difference is beta-carotene. But that was never the issue.
- Ancient cattle genomics, origins, and rapid turnover in the Fertile Crescent. aDNA shows origin from multiple populations, and separate introgressions from aurochs, then an influx of zebu bulls from the Indus Valley in the Bronze Age. Basically a Zeus-and-Europa scenario.
- Global agricultural productivity is threatened by increasing pollinator dependence without a parallel increase in crop diversification. Agricultural diversification going up weakly, possibly undermining pollinators, while proportion of pollinator-dependent crops increasing strongly.
- Food production shocks across land and sea. There are shock hotspots, and overall the frequency of shocks is going up. Whatever can be done?
- National food production stabilized by crop diversity. I wonder.
- The SDG of zero hunger 75 years on: Turning full circle on agriculture and nutrition. No longer just calories.
- Contributions of biodiversity to the sustainable intensification of food production. They are various and considerable, but context-specific. See additional data here. See also everything below…
- Development of interspecific hybrids between Solanum lycopersicum L. and S. sisymbriifolium Lam. via embryo calli. Tertiary genepool? No problem.
- The Role of Diet in Resilience and Vulnerability to Climate Change among Early Agricultural Communities in the Maya Lowlands. More diverse diets allowed Maya to survive the droughts of the Late Pre-Classic Period (AD 100–300) better than those of the Terminal Classic Period (AD 750–1000).
- Global restoration opportunities in tropical rainforest landscapes. Massive mashing up of spatial datasets concludes that top 10% areas for potential return of benefits and feasibility of forest restoration are located largely within conservation hotspots and in countries committed to the Bonn Challenge, but cover only a small portion of the Key Biodiversity Area network.
- Plant domestication disrupts biodiversity effects across major crop types. Wild relatives are better at living in diverse mixtures than their descendant crops.
- Synchronous crop failures and climate-forced production variability. ENSO has caused global crop failures. Which are likely to get more frequent.
- Frankincense in peril. Because of cows and fire.
- Identification of Loci Controlling Adaptation in Chinese Soybean Landraces via a Combination of Conventional and Bioclimatic GWAS. Three geographic sub-populations among 2000 diverse landraces; 12 SNPs associated with variation in 3 bioclimatic variables at collecting sites.
- Estimates of genetic load in small populations suggest extensive purging of deleterious alleles. Counterintuitively, rapid declines cause worse genetic load for more diverse species.
- Grazing animals drove domestication of grain crops. Small-seeded herbaceous annuals were mainly animal-dispersed, which meant they grew in dense stands on nitrogen hotspots near water sources, making them easily harvested. Hey presto, crops!
- Global impacts of future cropland expansion and intensification on agricultural markets and biodiversity. Expansion mostly threatens biodiversity in Central and South America, intensification in Sub-Saharan Africa, India and China. Prices lower everywhere.
- Domestication and varietal diversification of Old World cultivated cottons (Gossypium sp.) in the Antiquity. G. arboreum first domesticated in Baluchistan 8000 years BP, G. herbaceum much later in Nubia. But they’re really difficult to tell apart in archaeological remains.
- ‘Preserve or perish’: food preservation practices in the early modern kitchen. The housewife as natural philosopher.
The ‘World Resources Report: Creating a Sustainable Food Future’ is out and the news is that “there is no silver bullet.” Rather, there’s a whole list of things that need to be done. For example, we need “[g]enetic tools allowing farmers to select for size, flavor, and temperament of vegetables.”
Here’s the actual, very sensible, menu:
- Reduce growth in demand by cutting food loss and waste, eating healthier diets, and more
- Increase food production without expanding agricultural land area via yield gains for both crops and livestock
- Protect and restore natural ecosystems by reducing deforestation, restoring peatlands, and linking yield gains with ecosystem conservation
- Increase fish supply by improving aquaculture systems and better managing wild fisheries
- Reduce greenhouse gas emissions from agricultural production through innovative technologies and farming methods
Needless to say, agricultural biodiversity underpins pretty much all of the above, including attitude-free vegetables. Maybe there is a silver bullet after all?
A Mars subsidiary called BioN2 had signed an agreement with a village to share financial benefits from the maize’s commercialization. That village turned out to be Totontepec, a Mixe indigenous community in the mountains of eastern Oaxaca… The UC Davis/Mars researchers received a certificate of compliance with the Nagoya Protocol, an international agreement aimed at compensating indigenous communities for their biological resources and traditional knowledge.
Sounds good, right? But questions remain.
Still, the situation surrounding Totontepec’s maize raises complex questions about how indigenous communities equitably benefit when research scientists and multinational corporations commercialize local crops and plants. Should Totontepec’s maize turn out to be a miracle, self-fertilizing crop whose genetic traits can be replicated worldwide, will the community’s Mixe people receive a significant long-term share of profits, which could potentially number in the millions of dollars? How does Nagoya ensure that the rights and interests of small indigenous communities are safeguarded when their leaders negotiate complex deals with international lawyers and executives? And, not least, when a valuable plant is found throughout a region, is it fair for a single village such as Totontepec to reap financial benefits from its maize while neighboring communities with identical or similar maize receive nothing?
These questions, and others, are discussed in the article, which is really a model of its kind, courtesy of Martha Pskowski.