Tagged: domestication

Saffron, Crocus sativus and origin label

Crocus, saffron-omics and the highest value crop

Saffron, the stigma of Crocus sativus, is the highest priced agricultural product (often €/$25 or £15 per gram) and a good example of a profitable crop with sustainability, cultural and social values, and high labour demand. I have been discussing –omics studies of the crop – the DNA, RNA, metabolites and secondary products – at the annual meeting of a European Science Foundation COST programme Saffronomics. The ‘Action’ aims to coordinate research on Saffron-omics for crop improvement, traceability of the product, determination of authenticity, adulteration and origin to provide new insights that will lead a sound Saffron Bio-Economy. Despite the...

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A tiny wild tomato next to a massive cultivated tomato.

Are tomatoes naturally unnatural?

The news GM Tomatoes are being grown in Canada broke on the BBC late last week. They also opened a comment section which, like comments sections on any news site, is a mix of the thoughtful and bizarre. One common reaction is that the GM tomatoes aren’t natural, and that this matters because there’s an assumption that natural is good. This might be a less popular opinion if people lived for a month with natural water supplies. More interesting is the other side of the argument, that non-GM tomatoes are natural, which makes a kind of sense, but is odd when...

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Chromosomes, Crops and Superdomestication

  Chromosomes, Crops and Superdomestication – Pat Heslop-Harrison Malaysia from Pat Heslop-Harrison   Agro-Biotechnology Institute, ABI Serdang Prof J. S. “Pat” Heslop-Harrison, University of Leicester Academic Icon, University of Malaya Chromosomes, Crops and Superdomestication Crop improvement is reliant on the exploitation of new biodiversity and new combinations of diversity. In this seminar presented at the Agro-Biotechnology Institute, ABI Serdang, Malaysia, Professor J.S. “Pat” Heslop-Harrison, discusses his work on genome structure and evolution, involving processes including polyploidy, introgression, recombination and repetitive DNA changes. Identification and measurement of diversity and relationships assists in use of new gene combinations or new crops, through...

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Phenotypic characters of rice landraces reveal independent lineages of short-grain aromatic indica rice

Crop domestication is a remarkable example of the evolution of wild plants into cultivable forms through human selection. Following the domestication of rice almost 10,000 years ago, ancient farmers selected many rice lineages for diverse agronomic and cultural traits, such as grain size, shape and colour; awn length; pest resistance; and aroma. A recent study in AoB PLANTS by Ray et al. examined the phenotypic traits of a large collection of Indian rice landraces (all accessed from Vrihi, rice seed bank, http://www.cintdis.org/vrihi) and found that a few grain, panicle and leaf traits are major drivers of the huge phenotypic diversity...

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Melones insipidi

The Disappearing Watermelons of Europe

How do you see a watermelon that isn’t there? Paris, Daunay and Janick continue their study of the changing crops of Mediterranean Europe with a study of Medieval iconography of watermelons in Mediterranean Europe. They’ve found the earliest accurate depiction of a watermelon from Italy, dating to around 1300. However, not all watermelons are the same. The sweet watermelon we grow in Europe today had another variety that is now less common. Paris et al. have shown that melons were widely grown in antiquity around the Mediterranean. Melons and watermelons are known from much earlier due to images in ancient...

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Origins of determinate growth habit in Phaseolus

Origins of determinate growth habit in Phaseolus

One of the traits that appeared during domestication of common bean, Phaseolus vulgaris, is determinacy, in which stems end with a terminal inflorescence. Kwak et al. examine sequence variation in PvTFL1y, the gene that underlies determinancy, in 46 wild and domesticated accessions that include both the determinate and indeterminate growth habits. They find that all indeterminate types show only synonymous nucleotide substitutions whereas determinate types – observed only among domesticated accessions – show several additional mutation types that potentially cause reduction or elimination of gene expression. Although each of the determinacy haplotypes probably does not represent distinct domestication events, they are...

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Artificial selection of Crescentia cujete

Artificial selection of Crescentia cujete

Plant domestication depends on human perception of intraspecific variation and operates through management practices. Aguirre-Dugua et al. examine the recognition of varieties (one wild, three domesticated) of the gourd (calabash) tree Crescentia cujete by Maya people in Mexico in relation to fruit morphology and ongoing processes of human selection. The results show that Maya nomenclature is related to a preference for domesticated varieties with larger, rounder and thicker fruits. Vegetative propagation of preferred varieties has maintained a differential distribution of cpDNA haplotypes in villages as compared to sympatric wild populations, although tolerance of spontaneous trees favours introgression from wild populations.

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Genetics of domestication of yardlong bean

Genetics of domestication of yardlong bean

The genetics of yardlong bean (Vigna unguiculata ssp. unguiculata cv.-gr. sesquipedalis), a vegetable form of cowpea, is of particular interest because the genome of this legume has experienced divergent domestication. Kongjaimun et al. develop two genetic linkage maps and QTL analysis for 24 domestication-related traits and find that the QTLs show co-location on several narrow genomic regions on almost all linkage groups. Comparison with other domesticated species reveals similarities with azuki bean (V. angularis) but differences with rice bean (V. umbellata), and some genomic regions for seed and pod size are conserved. The results provide a foundation for marker-assisted selection...

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Genetic diversity of ancient olive trees

Genetic diversity of ancient olive trees

Olive trees (Olea europaea) provide a good model to study the origin of cultivars due to their long lifespan. Diez et al. use SSR markers to evaluate genetic identity and diversity as well as phylogenetic relationships among the oldest wild and cultivated olives of Southern Spain. The majority (90.4 %) of the a priori cultivated ancient olive genotypes do not match any current cultivar, suggesting that a significant and valuable reservoir of genetic diversity exists among these varieties.

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Agricultural piracy and the domestication of rice

The origins of rice have been cast in a new light by research published in PLoS Genetics. By reconciling two theories, the authors show that the domestication of rice occurred at least twice independently but with extensive “borrowing” between two subspecies, Oryza sativa indica and Oryza sativa japonica, the southern and northern varieties of rice and they are major staple crops in Asia. Whether they share a single origin of domestication or were domesticated independently twice interests both historians and biologists, and the two views had seemed mutually exclusive. However, researchers are now suggesting that these two views may both...

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