Here’s a story about breeders’ efforts to perfect the jack-o’-lantern.Â A clue: it’s all in the peduncle. And there’s apparently no “gene-splicing” involved!
Would you eat a purple pizza? Breeders at Oregon State University are hoping you would, because they’re a couple of years away from releasing a purple tomato hybrid, the colour apparently coming from a wild relative. Read about it here. Supposed to be better for you too…
There’s a discussion of marker assisted selection (MAS) in, of all places, the Guardian. The writer, Jeremy Rifkin, tries to sell MAS as a consumer-friendly alternative to GM, but judging by some of the comments that is not going to be a universally successful strategy.
Sea buckthorn (Hippophae rhamnoides) has long been touted as a healthy source of flavonoids and other compounds claimed to protect against heart disease and other “civilised” ailments. A report in the Journal of the Science of Food and Agriculture (abstract available freely here) says that Indian scientists have developed a new method of extracting sea buckthorn juice that results in a greater yield of juice that is higher in these protective compounds. An article suggests that sea buckthorn could now join “an ever-increasing list of a number of antioxidant fruits, including pomegranate, guarana, mangosteen, noni berries, goji berries and blueberries, which are increasingly seen by food and beverage makers as up and coming ingredients”. Ah, but will it taste good?
An interesting Letter to Nature entitled “Effects of biodiversity on the functioning of trophic groups and ecosystem” here. A meta-analysis of studies that have “experimentally manipulated species diversity … shows that the average effect of decreasing species richness is to decrease the abundance or biomass of the focal trophic group, leading to less complete depletion of resources used by that group … (but also that) … the standing stock of, and resource depletion by, the most species-rich polyculture tends to be no different from that of the single most productive species used in an experiment.” Are there enough data out there for a similar meta-analysis of experimental manipulations of genetic diversity in crop fields?