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Penny thinks traditional varieties are underrated:

Where Hawaii’s research stations and taro farmers practice good soil husbandry, timely harvests and plant stock culling practices, traditional taro varieties thrive. An old Hawaiian saying – nana i ke kumu; look to the source.

This was in reply to a Brainfood snippet on a recent paper by Vincent Lebot and colleagues: “Adapting clonally propagated crops to climatic changes: a global approach for taro (Colocasia esculenta (L.) Schott).”

Results indicated that hybrids tolerant to taro leaf blight (TLB, Phytophthora colocasiae Raciborski), developed by Hawaii, Papua New Guinea and Samoa breeding programmes outperformed local cultivars in most locations.

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In 600 AD…

…Pope Gregory the Great … decreed that laurices — newborn or fetal rabbits — didn’t count as meat. Christians could therefore eat them during Lent. They became a popular delicacy, and hungry monks started breeding them. Their work transformed the wild, skittish European rabbit into a tame domestic animal that tolerates humans.

Or maybe not, says Ed Yong.

In fact, “…when it comes to domestication, …when is the wrong question.” Shoot.

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Looks like mapping is in the air. Hardly had I finished messing around with European trees maps that I ran across this random dump of Brazilian crop distribution data. The source is given as the Brazilian Institute of Geography and Statistics (IBGE), but I was not able to find the original maps there. I still wanted to do a mashup with Genesys, though, of course, which meant a little more messing around.

In the end, it turned out to be fairly easy, though not as easy as with those EUFGIS shapefiles. You have to hack the map off that first website as a screenshot, then add the JPG as an image layer in Google Earth and tweak the corners until it more or less fits on top of the borders of Brazil, which is the bit that takes time. Once you’re happy with the fit, you can download an appropriate KML file from Genesys and plonk it on top. Here’s the result for cassava.

Green means cassava cultivation according to IBGE, and the red dots are cassava landrace accessions from Genesys. That would be a pretty good way to identify gross geographic gaps in ex situ holdings, but for the fact that, crucially, there’s no data from the national collection at Cenargen in Genesys. Yet. We’re working on it. Stay tuned.

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I’m not sure if it’s been formally announced, but the Secretariat of the European Forest Genetic Resources Programme has moved to Bonn. I know because they’re hosted by the European Forestry Institute just a floor below the offices of the Global Crop Diversity Trust where I work. Among other things, EUFORGEN manages the European Information System on Forest Genetic Resources, which has produced cool distribution maps and other resources, including of some species which are crop wild relatives. Just for a laugh, I’ve downloaded their shapefile for Prunus avium and mashed that up with what little there is in Genesys that’s geo-referenced (click on it to see it better).

That’s interestingly complementary to the map of in situ and ex situ conservation units in EUFGIS.

We should really work to have the two systems talk to each other.

Anyway, welcome to Bonn, Michele and Ewa.

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Yes, even Europe has community seed banks, and a website to tell you all about them. Here’s where they are:

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Agricultural Biodiversity by Luigi Guarino - 1w ago

A tweet by James Wong a couple of days ago which reproduced a map from a paper from a few years back showing the spread of the words for sweet potato around the world

had me searching the interwebs for similar maps. Recently there was one for tea, for example.

Any others? A Reddit post turned up coffee (as well as honey and sugar).

Banana was harder to find.

Any others out there?

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