- Evolution of the crop rhizosphere: impact of domestication on root exudates in tetraploid wheat (Triticum turgidum L.). Domestication and breeding have led to (probably adaptive) changes in root exudates.
- Threats from urban expansion, agricultural transformation and forest loss on global conservation priority areas. Vertebrate Biodiversity Hotspots are most threatened by all three factors. Plants too?
- Patterns and drivers of biodiversity–stability relationships under climate extremes. Species richness may not be enough to buffer ecosystems from extreme precipitations events. But a different metric would give a different result?
- Evaluating the environmental impacts of dietary recommendations. Adopting nationally recommended diets would help the environment.
- On the Use of Hedonic Price Indices to Understand Ecosystem Service Provision from Urban Green Space in Five Latin American Megacities. There’s an overall strong positive correlation between urban greenery and house prices, but it’s context-specific.
- Disease: A Hitherto Unexplored Constraint on the Spread of Dogs (Canis lupus familiaris) in Pre-Columbian South America. Yes, why are there no dogs in the Amazon?
- Children and Wild Foods in the Context of Deforestation in Rural Malawi. Fewer wild foods in more deforested sites, and fewer sold by children from better-off households. What of the nutrition outcomes, though?
- Biodiversity defrosted: unveiling non-compliant fish trade in ethnic food stores. About 40% of samples in Liverpool and Manchester mislabelled.
- Population viability analysis of the Crioula Lageano cattle. It’s going to be fine.
- The Kalanchoë genome provides insights into convergent evolution and building blocks of crassulacean acid metabolism. Next stop, CAM rice.
- Contribution of trees to the conservation of biodiversity and ecosystem services in agricultural landscapes. It depends. But what would those kids in Malawi say?
A European Parliament committee discussing “Genetic diversity, conservation and crops wild relatives”? Yeah, I didn’t think that was possible either, but here’s the evidence. And you can even see and hear the whole thing, in the language of your choice. In the hot seat in front of the committee were: Prof. Nigel Maxted, Senior Lecturer in Genetic Conservation, School of Biosciences, University of Birmingham, UK; Dr Susanne Barth, Senior Research Officer, Plant Genetics, Teagasc CELUP Crop Research, Ireland; and Dr Nicolas Roux, Senior Scientist, Musa Genetic Resources Team Leader, Effective Genetic Resources Conservation and Use Initiative, Bioversity International, Montpellier, France.
At least one parliamentarian was impressed with what Nigel (right) et al. had to say. Let’s hope that translates into action.
Fascinating session in @EP_Agriculture on Genetic Diversity and Crop Wild Relatives. Dr Nigel Maxted from @birminghamuniv talking about threats to genetic diversity and importance of conserving wild plant species, “we cannot wait we have to conserve them now” pic.twitter.com/Uw8UkySDDa
— Anthea McIntyre MEP (@anthea_mcintyre) December 7, 2017
A new measure of the sustainability of food production is out, thanks to The Economist Intelligence Unit and the Barilla Center for Food & Nutrition, and making a splash, at least with the countries that come out with a high score. It considers agricultural sustainability, food loss and waste and nutritional challenges at a country level. Among the more than 60 indicators which go into making up the index you’ll find “agricultural diversification” (the share of total agricultural production represented by the top 3 crops) and something called “environmental biodiversity.” This last turns out to be the “Proportion of local breeds classified as being at risk of extinction” which of course is SDG Indicator 2.5.2, as we saw yesterday. That seems to be a little light on agricultural biodiversity (quite apart from the fact that the particular indicator has a lot of missing values). Have the compilers not heard of the Agrobiodiversity Index? Or of the other indicators under SDG Target 2.5?
An interesting review is just out by the Grand Old Man of plant conservation (or one of them), Vernon Heywood, under the title Plant conservation in the Anthropocene – challenges and future prospects. It’s a long read, but worth it, and thanks go to the Kunming Institute of Botany, Chinese Academy of Sciences for funding open access.
One bit that struck me in particular comes at the bottom of page 13 of the PDF version, where Prof. Heywood compares the status of ex situ conservation in wild and cultivated species:
Protected Area systems were one conspicuous exception but for other areas, such as ex situ conservation, no attempt was made to put in place the necessary global institutional structure. This contrasts with the situation for agriculture and forestry which when faced with the widespread erosion of genetic diversity in crops, a gene bank system and appropriate protocols for the collection, storage and access to seed was developed by organizations such as the FAO, CGIAR and IBPGR (now Bioversity International) and a number of national and regional gene banks were also created. For ex situ conservation of wild species, no serious efforts were made to address the issue of capacity and it was left to botanic gardens to attempt to take on the role of ex situ conservation of plants although in most cases without the necessary staff, support or finance (Heywood, 2009). Spain was one of the few countries — in fact a pioneer — to recognize this need and the environment agencies of some autonomous governments helped to create or support seed banks in some botanic gardens or other centres. Even more critical is the situation for the conservation of target species in situ for which no dedicated institutional arrangements have been put in place with the consequence that the relevant 2020 targets are unlikely to be met.
While fair enough as far as it goes, this seems to me to ignore the work of the Millennium Seed Bank at Kew in supporting partnerships for ex situ conservation of wild plant species around the world, and indeed also downplays the successes of botanical gardens, and their networking arrangements under Botanic Gardens Conservation International.
- Diversity and morphological characterization of Musa spp. in North Kivu and Ituri provinces, Eastern Democratic Republic of Congo. New cultivars still being discovered.
- A review of research on the effects of drought and temperature stress and increased CO2 on Theobroma cacao L., and the role of genetic diversity to address climate change. We have the diversity. But for how long?
- Climate change adaptation of coffee production in space and time. Gonna need Plans B and C. But do we have the diversity?
- Evaluation and Breeding of Zoysiagrass Using Japan’s Natural Genetic Resources. Stick to morphology.
- Where are commodity crops certified, and what does it mean for conservation and poverty alleviation? Less for poverty alleviation than for conservation. But more and better spatial data needed, especially on organic certification.
- Environmental and geographic variables are effective surrogates for genetic variation in conservation planning. Phew!
- Genome diversity of tuber-bearing Solanum uncovers complex evolutionary history and targets of domestication in the cultivated potato. More diversity in the landraces compared to wild species than in any other crop, few genes involved in early improvement, and different loci for adaptation to uplands and lowlands; also, wild relatives involved in diversification of long-day types.
- Agricultural biodiversity is sustained in the framework of food sovereignty. Peasants feed the world.
- Crop domestication facilitated rapid geographical expansion of a specialist pollinator, the squash bee Peponapis pruinosa. Bee follows crop follows people.
- Unlocking the diversity of genebanks: whole-genome marker analysis of Swiss bread wheat and spelt. Early breeders missed some stuff.
- A probabilistic model for tropical tree seed desiccation tolerance and storage classification. Predict storage behaviour from morphology.
- Potential of golden potatoes to improve vitamin A and vitamin E status in developing countries. Here we go again.