Brainfood: Species mixtures double, Crop diversification, Local adaptation, Speed of adaptation, Essential Biodiversity Variables, Effective population size, Monitoring diversity

Brainfood: Diversity & breeding in Coix, Triticum, Phaseolus, Manihot, Oryza, Vigna, Glycine, Zea, Malus

So are soybeans sorted or not?

Readers may have seen press coverage of a paper in Science suggesting that a biotech tweak to photosynthesis has led to significant yield boosts in soybeans. The tweak involves getting leaves to respond more nimbly to changes in light intensity, including due to shading by other leaves. It has successfully increased biomass production in tobacco in the past: would it also increase seed yield in a food crop under field conditions?

Yes, by up to a third, said the headlines. Not so fast, said Merritt Khaipho-Burch on Twitter: we’re going to need many more and much better field trials before we’re convinced.

That got some push-back, basically saying those kinds of trials are too expensive to be a precondition of publication. But now one of the authors of the original study, Steven Burgess, has weighed in, also on Twitter, saying the criticism is valid, it’s all very complicated, and the paper is just a proof of principle at this stage.

Now to get the press to explain all that.

Brainfood: Canadian berries, Durian, Watermelon domestication, Wild cacao, New Chinese fruit, Animal pollinators, Food impacts