EurekAlert summarizes work by Mark Ungerer and his colleagues at Kansas State University which is set to appear in the 24 October issue of Current Biology. They

determined that the genome size differences between … hybrid and parental sunflower species are associated with a massive proliferation of transposable genetic elements that has occurred independently in the genome of each hybrid species.

This is interesting because each of the three hybrid species studied has evolved under strong abiotic stress (in deserts, salt marshes). It has been suggested that both hybridization and abiotic stress can activate and lead to the multiplication of transposable elements, making this a potentially very valuable model system.

Orchards good for … ahem … wildlife

According to this article in The Independent, “Nature conservationists have called on the Government to protect Britain’s traditional orchards from further destruction, on the grounds that cultivated fruit trees provide a rich habitat for wildlife.” Good to see that their value in providing a rich habitat for traditional varieties of fruit trees is not going unnoticed!

Exploring edible biodiversity

I’ve lost track of the number of articles like this one I’ve seen over the years; a guide to the wealth of edible species out there in some part of the world, this time the Bong State recreation Area in Wisconsin, USA. Do they raise awareness of diversity in either agriculture or the diet? No idea, but they are fun to do, fun to write about, and in this case even fun to read.

Linking the agri to the cultural

FAO’s Globally Important Agriculture Heritage Systems (GIAHS) initiative is a potentially really cool way of linking agricultural and cultural heritage. They’ll be having a forum about it in Rome later this month. This will contribute to the development of projects in the following places:

  1. the Inca farming systems of the Peruvian Andes
  2. the oases of the Maghreb countries
  3. the integrated rice-fish system in China
  4. the Ifugao rice terraces systems in the Philippines
  5. Chiloé Island, one of the world centres of origin of potatoes