There’s some new videos out that readers might be interested in. You can find an entertaining take on herbaria on the Atomic Frontier YouTube channel. And if you’re into amaranth, check out the latest roundup of resources on GRIN-U.
- Genetic resources in Russia: from collections to bioresource centers. Ok, but why can’t they be both?
- Sowing the wheat seeds of Afghanistan’s future. Breed, fortify, irrigate, rebuild the knowledge base, invest in seed systems, engage farmers, include women, have the right policies. And hope for the best. No sign of bioresource centers, alas.
- Variation in Grain Zinc and Iron Concentrations, Grain Yield and Associated Traits of Biofortified Bread Wheat Genotypes in Nepal. Maybe Nepal can help Afghanistan, wheat-wise?
- Global food-miles account for nearly 20% of total food-systems emissions. Not a worry for Afghanistan or Russia, I suspect.
- Can agroecology improve food security and nutrition? A review. Yes. Afghanistan and Russia to be alerted.
- The geography of megatrends affecting European agriculture. Climate change, demographic change, (post-) productivism, and increasingly stringent environmental regulations mainly work together to destabilize the current system. Russia unavailable for comment.
- Agrobiodiversity Index Report 2021: Assessing Mediterranean food systems. Conservation of agricultural biodiversity doesn’t automatically translate into diversity in diets. I’d like to see the data for Russia and Afghanistan.
- Intra- and Inter-Population Genetic Diversity of “Russello” and “Timilia” Landraces from Sicily: A Proxy towards the Identification of Favorable Alleles in Durum Wheat. Lots of interesting variation in Sicilian wheat landraces. Now to get Sicilians to eat more diverse pasta.
- Global interdependence for fruit genetic resources: status and challenges in India. Maybe India could help Afghanistan. And vice versa. Wouldn’t that be a thing. Meanwhile, no word on the diversity of Indian fruit consumption.
- Wild Apples Are Not That Wild: Conservation Status and Potential Threats of Malus sieversii in the Mountains of Central Asia Biodiversity Hotspot. Climate change is coming for wild apples, and there’s only so much that protected areas can do. I believe Russia knows a thing or two about apple genebanks.
- Cider and dessert apples: What is the difference? Not much, as it turns out. But all I can think of now is wild apple cider.
The data behind the recent paper Crop wild relatives of the United States require urgent conservation action, led by friend-of-the-blog Colin Khoury, is online in beta.
Do check it out, and fill out the user survey. Kudos to the first person to identify the crop wild relative in the map reproduced above. Orange shows the ex situ conservation gap. Genesys records just 3 accessions for this species.
Cenchrus ciliaris (buffel grass) is a valued forage and fodder species both in Africa and the regions of Asia where it is native, and in the other parts of the sub-humid and semi-arid tropics and subtropics where it has become naturalized or is cultivated.
“The buffel grass has been there from the days of my father, grandparents to my great grandparents,” says [Geoffrey] Letakaan [of Baringo County, Kenya]. “This grass has a lot of value. If fed to cows, they fatten within three months. There is also hay for baling, and it is also used for thatching. In the past, the elders used to say ‘nangrongong’, meaning ‘it (the buffel grass) is on the hills’ such as Arabal and Mukutani hills… People should plant this grass – everyone.”
And yet, not all is well, as a tweet from GRAIN recently alerted me.
In Australia, where the grass is introduced, it is becoming a serious threat to native wildlife and habitats, with calls for its extirpation in some areas.
It’s … important to note controlling buffel doesn’t require its eradication from pastoral regions where it’s valued. It does, however, require a national commitment and dedicated research, with strategic, coordinated and committed action.
And even back in its native African range, specifically in the Baringo region of Kenya, there are problems. According to GRAIN:
Over the past few decades, a man named Murray Roberts, known to locals as “Omari” has led an effort to try and transform the local management of buffel grass – from a system based on communal land ownership and pastoralism to one based on private landholdings and intensive farming.
The issue is Roberts’ application for plant breeders’ rights over a number of buffel grass varieties, starting about 10 years back.
For many local pastoralists, Roberts is trying to claim ownership over their biodiversity. Eresia Erige, a Baringo community member, says that as soon as the community became aware of Roberts’ application for a breeders’ right, local elders went up the hills and collected samples to compare with the varieties grown by RAE. They found that it was the same grass. For Erige, “The grass belongs to the hills and therefore, its seeds and farming in general should be for all and not be privatised.”
The tug-of-war between Roberts and the Baringo pastoralists continues.
In both Australia and Kenya, buffel grass is affecting the welfare of Indigenous communities, in one case by threatening cultural sites, in the other by what is seen as an attempt to control access to its diversity. In neither case have the local communities had much of a say.
- The quest for red rice beer: transregional interactions and development of competitive feasting in Neolithic China. In the 4th millennium BCE, in China, people brewed a sacred red beer in vats called dakougang using rice, millet, Job’s tears, wheat and snake gourd root.
- The biocultural origins and dispersal of domestic chickens. The earliest domesticated chickens are found 1650-1250 BCE in central Thailand and were attracted by stored rice and millet. No word on the role of beer.
- Performance, Economics and Potential Impact of Perennial Rice PR23 Relative to Annual Rice Cultivars at Multiple Locations in Yunnan Province of China. But does it make decent beer and attract chickens?
- Genomic prediction of zinc-biofortification potential in rice gene bank accessions. Check out in particular the aus subspecies. No word on whether the resulting beer and chickens are also high in zinc.
- Do ancient wheats contain less gluten than modern bread wheat, in favour of better health? More to the point, do they make better beer?
- Evidence for two domestication lineages supporting a middle-eastern origin for Brassica oleracea crops from diversified kale populations. Chickens not involved at all.
- Genome evolution and diversity of wild and cultivated potatoes. Propagation by tubers had a big effect on the cultivated potato genome compared to propagation by seed. And no, I’m not going to get into the whole chickens-in-South-America controversy right now, but you can google it.
- The genomics of linkage drag in sunflower. Introgression from wild relatives has been good for some things, bad for others, but in general pre-breeders should stick to the primary genepool. And watch out for chickens.
- From horticulture to agriculture: New data on farming practices in Late Chalcolithic western Anatolia. While domestic units were small and agriculture extensive, cooperation was widespread and inequality low. Then those Bronze Age elites got chickens…