Domesticating the podcast

Want to review the state of knowledge on domestication of chickens, sheep and cattle in less than half an hour? Yes? Well then, Jeremy has a podcast for you. It’s an interview with Olivier Hanotte, who teaches livestock genetics at the University of Nottingham.

The beautiful chicken pic is from a book by photographers Moreno Monti and Matteo Tranchellini.

There’s also a stunning book on the diversity of African cattle from ILRI, where Dr Hanotte also has a position.

Featured comment: Community seed drying

Denise Costich, who has just retired as head of the CIMMYT genebank, gives us a bit of the back story to a paper we included in a recent Brainfood:

Thanks for the mention of our Dry Chain work… the first time I heard about drying beads was at my very first AGM in Rome in 2012. That was a key introduction to this technology for me. It was there in my “knowledge base” when we first began to tackle the problem of seed storage in remote locations without electricity – the community seed reserves and farmers’ corn cribs of the Western Highlands of Guatemala.

AGM stands for Annual Genebank Meeting. The managers of the CGIAR genebanks have been organizing them since 2012.

Brainfood: Genebank technology, Genebank research, Apple genomes, Napier genome, Wheat genome, Blue maize, FACE, Pigeonpea diversity, Millet domestication, Ancient dogs, Ancient bovids, Domestication syndrome, Date pollen, Commons, Genetic diversity trifecta

A little R&R for ecosystems

It seems we missed, back in August, a huge report on CGIAR’s work on ecosystem restoration. After a thorough stocktaking, the report suggests the following are critical for successful restoration:

  1. secure tenure and use rights
  2. access to markets (for inputs and outputs) and services
  3. access to information, knowledge and know-how associated with sustainable and locally adapted land use and land management practices
  4. awareness of the status of local ecosystem services, often used as a baseline to assess the level of degradation
  5. high potential for restoration to contribute to global ecosystem services and attract international donors

Which seems sensible. At least if “practices” in 3 and “services” in 4 and 5 include some consideration of genetic diversity. And on that note, it’s also about time we linked to the Royal Botanic Gardens Sydney’s page on Restore & Renew (R&R).

It only covers New South Wales and Victoria, but the R&R Webtool could be something for CGIAR to run with globally. You pick a spot you want to restore, and, for a selection of trees, it tells you where best to source germplasm from. That’s based on current climate, future climate and, crucially, genetic similarity1 (if data are available).

Of course, this is just the start. Scaling up the supply of tree seeds for landscape restoration remains a major challenge. A recent review, also involving CGIAR scientists, makes quite a few useful recommendations. But in the end, I suspect, it will come down to this:

  • put in place incentives and enabling policies to support smallholders in producing, trading and using high-quality genetically diverse reproductive materials
  1. But see this for a different view. []

When landraces are elite

Have you ever found a genebank accessions that performed better straight out of the box than a modern variety, under a particular set of conditions? If so, let me know below. I’d like to compile a list, because why not?

Some examples already up on Twitter.