- New technologies to improve the ex situ conservation of plant genetic resources. Genebanks need to catch up with the latest science even just to maintain their seeds.
- Advanced Strategic Research to Promote the Use of Rice Genetic Resources. High-throughput phenotyping and genome sequencing are the latest science that will make the most of those seeds.
- Phased diploid genome assemblies and pan-genomes provide insights into the genetic history of apple domestication. Analysis of genomes of two main wild progenitors plus the crop uncovers genes so far untapped for improvement.
- The elephant grass (Cenchrus purpureus) genome provides insights into anthocyanidin accumulation and fast growth. It’s related to pearl millet, apparently. Which may or may not be a good thing. No word on any genes so far untapped for improvement.
- Triticum population sequencing provides insights into wheat adaptation. Wide adaptation is largely due to introgression from the wild. No word on any genes so far untapped for improvement.
- The Right Tortilla for the Right Occasion: Variation in Consumers’ Willingness to Pay for Blue Maize Tortillas Based on Utilization. Consumers are willing to pay 42% more for blue tortillas, but only when eating out, presumably as part of virtue signalling.
- 30 years of free‐air carbon dioxide enrichment (FACE): What have we learned about future crop productivity and its potential for adaptation? That enrichment wont save us, that’s what.
- Phenotypic Divergence Analysis in Pigeonpea [Cajanus cajan (L.) Millspaugh] Germplasm Accessions. From 81 accessions to 9 promising ones, at least for Malawi.
- A model for the domestication of Panicum miliaceum (common, proso or broomcorn millet) in China. Domestication took 3000 years.
- Origins and genetic legacy of prehistoric dogs. All dogs are descendants of a now extinct wolf population, and their genetics show both interesting parallels with, and divergences from, that of humans.
- Brain Size Does Not Rescue Domestication Syndrome. Not even for humans, I suspect. Kidding apart, this is fascinating. It suggests that, for animals at least, the domestication syndrome is not actually a thing. Or at least has not been properly tested. If there’s interest, I’ll do a full post. Let me know in the comments below.
- Ancient genomes reveal tropical bovid species in the Tibetan Plateau contributed to the prevalence of hunting game until the late Neolithic. The now tropical gaur ranged much further north during the warmer Neolithic, which facilitated the exploration of the Tibetan Plateau.
- Optimization of in vitro germination and cryopreservation conditions for preserving date palm pollen in the USDA National Plant Germplasm System. Always good to have another way of storing germplasm.
- Beyond the material: knowledge aspects in seed commoning. Comparing global with local seed commons reveals importance of managing knowledge, both scientific and traditional.
- Genetics to the rescue: managing forests sustainably in a changing world. To manage forests sustainably, you have to conserve and use their genetic diversity. Interesting that they needed a conference to work that out.
- Genetic mixing for population management: from genetic rescue to provenancing. And using that genetic diversity could mean mixing it up.
- The importance of genomic variation for biodiversity, ecosystems and people. Maintaining ecosystem services means maintaining genetic diversity. Sounds like these authors went to the same conference.
This special issue results from a renewed call to demonstrate the value-in-use of conserving and supplying plant genetic resources conserved in genebanks to researchers, plant breeders, and farmers. We present these studies as a collective contribution to a relatively small body of literature that highlights not only the importance of crop plant diversity managed by genebanks but also the diversity of genebank functions and uses.
The special issue is of Food Security.
Here’s the running order:
- Valuing genebanks — Melinda Smale, Nelissa Jamora
- Conserving genetic resources for agriculture: economic implications of emerging science — Douglas Gollin
- The contribution of the International Rice Genebank to varietal improvement and crop productivity in Eastern India — Donald Villanueva, Melinda Smale, Nelissa Jamora, Grace Lee Capilit
- Dynamic conservation of genetic resources: Rematriation of the maize landrace Jala — Vanessa Ocampo-Giraldo, Carolina Camacho-Villa, Denise E. Costich
- Andean potato diversity conserved in the International Potato Center genebank helps develop agriculture in Uganda: the example of the variety ‘Victoria’ — Vivian Bernal-Galeano, George Norton, David Ellis, Noelle L. Anglin
- The contribution of the CIAT genebank to the development of iron-biofortified bean varieties and well-being of farm households in Rwanda — Stefania Sellitti, Kate Vaiknoras, Melinda Smale, Nelissa Jamora
- Use and benefits of tree germplasm from the World Agroforestry genebank for smallholder farmers in Kenya — Kavengi Kitonga, Nelissa Jamora, Melinda Smale, Alice Muchugi
- The tale of taro leaf blight: a global effort to safeguard the genetic diversity of taro in the Pacific — Sefra Alexandra, Nelissa Jamora, Melinda Smale, Michel E. Ghanem
- Transferring diversity of goat grass to farmers’ fields through the development of synthetic hexaploid wheat — Hafid Aberkane, Thomas Payne, Masahiro Kishi, Melinda Smale, Ahmed Amri
- ‘Warehouse’ or research centre? Analyzing public preferences for conservation, pre-breeding and characterization activities at the Czech genebank — Nicholas Tyack, Milan Ščasný
Kudos to my colleague Nelissa Jamora for making it happen.
- Germplasm Acquisition and Distribution by CGIAR Genebanks. A lot of stuff going in, a lot of stuff coming out, to everyone’s benefit. 35 years of data, with special focus on the last 10.
- Intraspecific diversity as a reservoir for heat-stress tolerance in sweet potato. 132 out of 1973 accessions tolerant of heat, though in different ways. A prime example of the above benefits.
- Identification and characterization of high‐yielding, short‐duration rice genotypes for tropical Asia. Short-duration varieties will need to be a bit taller and leafier to yield more. Another example of the above benefits.
- Modelled distributions and conservation priorities of wild sorghums (Sorghum Moench). More stuff needs to go into the above genebanks, though, for example from N. Australia.
- Ex situ and in situ conservation gap analysis of crop wild relative diversity in the Fertile Crescent of the Middle East. Same from the Fertile Crescent.
- In situ and ex situ conservation gap analyses of crop wild relatives from Malawi. And not just the above genebanks either.
- The Potential of Payment for Ecosystem Services for Crop Wild Relative Conservation. Ok, we have the gaps (see above), and now here we have the method. What’s stopping us?
- Assessing under-Estimation of Genetic Diversity within Wild Potato (Solanum) Species Populations. Wild diploid species more diverse than previously thought. So providing more ecosystem services?
- Genetic diversity and differentiation of Olea europaea subsp. cuspidata (Wall. & G.Don) Cif. in the Hajar Mountains of Oman. No word on the ecosystem services being provided.
- The investigation of minor and rare Tunisian olive cultivars to enrich and diversify the olive genetic resources of the country. Rare + minor doesn’t mean bad. But maybe an influx of Omani genes would help?
- Biobanking of vegetable genetic resources by in vitro conservation and cryopreservation. Yes, even for vegetables.
- From landrace to modern hybrid broccoli: the genomic and morphological domestication syndrome within a diverse B. oleracea collection. Four subpopulations: Calabrese broccoli landraces, hybrids, sprouting broccoli, and violet cauliflower. Diversity in modern varieties decreasing with time.
- Crop switching reduces agricultural losses from climate change in the United States by half under RCP 8.5. But it will have to be a lot of switching. Hopefully out of broccoli.
- The mosaic genome of indigenous African cattle as a unique genetic resource for African pastoralism. An influx of zebu genes about a thousand years ago is responsible for the success of African pastoralism.
- Protection of traditional agricultural knowledge and rethinking agricultural research from farmers’ perspective: A case from Turkey. Against power imbalances the gods themselves contend in vain.
You may remember an old blog post of mine over on the work website describing how an impasse over access and benefit sharing arrangements relating to “digital sequence information” (DSI) on plant genetic resources scuppered the most recent round of Plant Treaty negotiations.1 No? Well, this is how I put it at the time:
Some countries, and many civil society organizations, contended … that seed companies would soon be able to produce and market new varieties simply by manipulating genomic data in open-access repositories. That is, without needing to access actual seeds, and thus triggering the ABS provisions of the Treaty. In their view, this is a loophole that should be closed.
Others said that this is far-fetched, and that DNA sequence data needs to be freely available for researchers and breeders to do their work properly, and deliver new, better varieties, faster. Charging scientists for using genomic data, even if a way could be found of doing it, would impede vital research.
I was a bit worried about the binary at the time. It was an easy — though maybe a bit lazy — way to summarize the situation, but surely there was room for nuance? That was brought home to me by a recent paper from the project Wissenschaftliche Lösungsansätze für Digitale Sequenzinformation (Scientific approaches for digital sequence information) from the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research.
In past DSI discussions, a stark contrast has often been presented: either the status quo with an open-access model and extensive non-monetary benefit-sharing but zero monetary benefit-sharing OR a closed-access system with monetary benefit-sharing but dramatically reduced or zero non-monetary benefit-sharing and a loss of open-access. We are convinced that the debate between open access and monetary benefit-sharing is a false choice and that both principles can thrive if innovative ideas and open-mindedness are brought to the table.
And the paper is actually a great contribution to the cause of finding a workable middle way. It’s worth reading the whole thing, or at least the executive summary, but basically, it suggests 5 options:
- membership fees
- cloud-based fees
- commons licences
- metadata & blockchain
I particularly like the micro-levy idea.
Do any data jockeys on here care to share their thoughts?