Fruits and vegetables are undeniably important to a healthful diet. But there's another side to some of these plants that, thankfully, most people never see: the tiny amounts of toxin within them. Lucky for us, healthy human bodies are remarkably good at filtering out toxins from everyday foods.
The spread of agriculture across sub-Saharan Africa has long been attributed to the large-scale migration of Bantu-speaking groups out of their west Central African homeland from about 4000 years ago. These groups are seen as having expanded rapidly across the sub-continent, carrying an ‘Iron Age’ package of farming, metal-working, and pottery, and largely replacing pre-existing hunter-gatherers along the way. While elements of the ‘traditional’ Bantu model have been deconstructed in recent years, one of the main constraints on developing a more nuanced understanding of the local processes involved in the spread of farming has been the lack of detailed archaeobotanical and zooarchaeological sequences, particularly from key regions such as eastern Africa. Situated at a crossroads between continental Africa and the Indian Ocean, eastern Africa was not only a major corridor on one of the proposed Bantu routes to southern Africa, but also the recipient of several migrations of pastoral groups from the north. In addition, eastern Africa saw the introduction of a range of domesticates from India, Southeast Asia, and other areas of the Indian Ocean sphere through long-distance maritime connections. The possibility that some Asian crops, such as the vegecultural ‘tropical trio’ (banana, taro, and yam), arrived before the Bantu expansion has in particular raised many questions about the role of eastern Africa's nonagricultural communities in the adoption and subsequent diffusion of crops across the continent. Drawing on new botanical and faunal evidence from recent excavations at a range of hunter-gatherer and early farming sites on eastern Africa's coast and offshore islands, and with comparison to inland sites, this paper will examine the timing and tempo of the agricultural transition, the nature of forager-farmerpastoralist interactions, and the varying roles that elements of the ‘Bantu package’, pastoralism, and nonAfrican domesticates played in local economies. This paper highlights the complex pathways and transitions that unfolded, as well as how eastern Africa links into a broader global picture of heterogeneous, dynamic, and extended transformations from forager to farmer that challenge our fundamental understanding of pre-modern Holocene societies
Rice (Oryza) is one of the world’s most important and productive staple foods, with highly diverse uses and varieties. We use archaeobotany, culture, history, and ethnobotany to trace the history of the development of sticky (or glutinous) forms. True sticky rice is the result of a genetic mutation that causes a loss of amylose starch but higher amylopectin content. These mutations are unknown in wild populations but have become important amongst cultivars in East and Southeast Asia (unlike other regions). In the same region, other cereals have also evolved parallel mutations that confer stickiness when cooked. This points to a strong role for cultural history and food preparation traditions in the genetic selection and breeding of Asian cereal varieties. The importance of sticky rice in ritual foods and alcoholic beverages in East and Southeast Asia also suggests the entanglement of crop varieties and culturally inherited food traditions and ritual symbolism.
For the first time we integrate quantitative data on lithic sickles and archaeobotanical evidence for domestication and the evolution of plant economies from sites dated to the terminal Pleistocene and Early Holocene (ca. 12000–5000 cal. BCE) from throughout the Fertile Crescent region of Southwest Asia. We find a strong correlation in some regions, throughout the Levant, for increasing investment in sickles that tracks the evidence for increasing reliance on cereal crops, while evidence for morphological domestication in wheats (Triticum monococcum and Triticumdicoccum) and barley (Hordeum vulgare) was delayed in comparison to sickle use. These data indicate that while the co-increase of sickle blades and cereal crops support the protracted development of agricultural practice, sickles did not drive the initial stages of the domestication process but rather were a cultural adaptation to increasing reliance on cereals that were still undergoing selection for morphological change. For other regions, such as the Eastern Fertile Crescent and Cyprus such correlations are weaker or non-existent suggesting diverse cultural trajectories to cereal domestication. We conclude that sickles were an exaptation transferred to cereal harvesting and important in signalling a new cultural identity of “farmers”. Furthermore, the protracted process of technological and agricultural evolution calls into question hypotheses that the transition to agriculture was caused by any particular climatic event.
According to Takayasu, the earliest traces of cannabis in Japan are seeds and woven fibers discovered in the west of the country dating back to the Jomon Period (10,000 BC – 300 BC). Archaeologists suggest that cannabis fibers were used for clothes – as well as for bow strings and fishing lines. These plants were likely cannabis sativa – prized for its strong fibers – a thesis supported by a Japanese prehistoric cave painting which appears to show a tall spindly plant with cannabis’s tell-tale leaves.
“Cannabis was the most important substance for prehistoric people in Japan. But today many Japanese people have a very negative image of the plant,” says Takayasu
Contamination with exogenous DNA is a constant hazard to ancient DNA studies, since their validity greatly depend on the ancient origin of the retrieved sequences. Since contamination occurs sporadically, it is fundamental to show positive evidence for ...
RTCC Climate change threatens staple potato crop in high Andes RTCC The creation of the Potato Park dates back from 1997 when an NGO called Andes Association promoted the conservation of the indigenous heritage regarding local rights, livelihoods...
Ideas y supuestos preconcebidos sobre cómo son o deberían ser las cosas dirigen nuestra mirada y la interpretación de los datos, observaciones, experimentos… y, en definitiva, lo que aceptamos como conocimiento verdadero
"A Dozen Suggestions for Enhancing Student Learning by Jim Winship
The key word in this title is "An"—this is "an approach" not "the approach" to teaching about diversity. The dozen suggestions here were derived from an extensive literature review, conversations with a number of people nationwide who are knowledgeable about the subject, the contributions of a dozen UWW faculty during a LEARN Center discussion group on "Teaching about Diversity, Teaching in Multicultural Contexts" in the Spring of 2003, and my own twenty-five-plus years of college teaching, twenty-two of these at UW-Whitewater. At UW-Whitewater, I teach a diversity course that draws students from all four colleges at the university and I also integrate diversity-related content and skill development in the social work courses I teach.
The following list of twelve suggestions is not exhaustive. They are ones that are supported by published literature on teaching for diversity, on effective college teaching, and are ones that both colleagues here at UW-Whitewater and I have found effective in teaching our undergraduate students. Faculty are encouraged to adopt those that fit with their discipline and teaching style, and adapt the exercises, simulations, and other materials on this website to their specific courses. The twelve suggestions are roughly sequential—starting with course planning and the start of a class, followed by ideas and approaches that can be used throughout a semester, ending with the importance of providing and receiving feedback."
Baligang is a Neolithic site on a northern tributary of the middle Yangtze and provides a long archaeobotanical sequence from the Seventh Millennium BC upto the First Millennium BC. It provides evidence for developments in rice and millet agriculture influenced by shifting cultural affiliation with the north (Yangshao and Longshan) and south (Qujialing and Shijiahe) between 4300 and 1800 BC. This paper reports on plant macro-remains (seeds), from systematic flotation of 123 samples (1700 litres), producing more than 10,000 identifiable remains. The earliest Pre-Yangshao occupation of the sites provide evidence for cultivation of rice ( Oryza sativa ) between 6300–6700 BC. This rice appears already domesticated in on the basis of a dominance of non-shattering spikelet bases. However, in terms of grain size changes has not yet finished, as grains are still thinner than more recent domesaticated rice and are closer in grain shape to wild rices. This early rice was cultivated alongside collection of wild staple foods, especially acorns ( Quercus/Lithicarpus sensu lato). In later periods the sites has evidence for mixed farming of both rice and millets ( Setaria italica and Panicum miliaceum ). Soybean appears on the site in the Shijiahe period (ca.2500 BC) and wheat ( Triticum cf. aestivum ) in the Late Longshan levels (2200–1800 BC). Weed flora suggests an intensification of rice agriculture over time with increasing evidence of wetland weeds. We interpret these data as indicating early opportunistic cultivation of alluvial floodplains and some rainfed rice, developing into more systematic and probably irrigated cultivation starting in the Yangshao period, which intensified in the Qujialing and Shijiahe period, before a shift back to an emphasis on millets with the Late Longshan cultural influence from the north.
The period from the late third millennium BC to the start of the first millennium AD witnesses the first steps towards food globalization in which a significant number of important crops and animals, independently domesticated within China, India, Africa and West Asia, traversed Central Asia greatly increasing Eurasian agricultural diversity. This paper utilizes an archaeobotanical database (AsCAD), to explore evidence for these crop translocations along southern and northern routes of interaction between east and west. To begin, crop translocations from the Near East across India and Central Asia are examined for wheat (Triticum aestivum) and barley (Hordeum vulgare) from the eighth to the second millennia BC when they reach China. The case of pulses and flax (Linum usitatissimum) that only complete this journey in Han times (206 BC–AD 220), often never fully adopted, is also addressed. The discussion then turns to the Chinese millets, Panicum miliaceum and Setaria italica, peaches (Amygdalus persica) and apricots (Armeniaca vulgaris), tracing their movement from the fifth millennium to the second millennium BC when the Panicum miliaceum reaches Europe and Setaria italica Northern India, with peaches and apricots present in Kashmir and Swat. Finally, the translocation of japonica rice from China to India that gave rise to indica rice is considered, possibly dating to the second millennium BC. The routes these crops travelled include those to the north via the Inner Asia Mountain Corridor, across Middle Asia, where there is good evidence for wheat, barley and the Chinese millets. The case for japonica rice, apricots and peaches is less clear, and the northern route is contrasted with that through northeast India, Tibet and west China. Not all these journeys were synchronous, and this paper highlights the selective long-distance transport of crops as an alternative to demic-diffusion of farmers with a defined crop package.
The origin of domesticated Asian rice (Oryza sativa) has been a contentious topic, with conflicting evidence for either single or multiple domestication of this key crop species. We examined the evolutionary history of domesticated rice by analyzing de novo assembled genomes from domesticated rice and its wild progenitors. Our results indicate multiple origins, where each domesticated rice subpopulation (japonica, indica, and aus) arose separately from progenitor O. rufipogon and/or O. nivara. Coalescence-based modeling of demographic parameters estimate that the first domesticated rice population to split off from O. rufipogon was O. sativa ssp. japonica, occurring at ∼13.1 – 24.1 kya, which is an order of magnitude older then the earliest archaeological date of domestication. This date is consistent, however, with the expansion of O. rufipogon populations after the Last Glacial Maximum ∼18 kya and archaeological evidence for early wild rice management in China. We also show that there is significant gene flow from japonica to both indica (∼17%) and aus (∼15%), which led to the transfer of domestication alleles from early-domesticated japonica to proto-indica and proto-aus populations. Our results provide support for a model in which different rice subspecies had separate origins, but that de novo domestication occurred only once, in O. sativa ssp. japonica, and introgressive hybridization from early japonica to proto-indica and proto-aus led to domesticated indica and aus rice.
Photo Credit: Ippei & Janine Naoi "As sacred forests are found in many cultures around the world, there is some hope that, in addition to their cultural significance, the persistence of these values can make an important contribution to conservation of biodiversity."
La hipótesis de que los perros acompañaran al hombre mucho antes de la revolución neolítica recibe un duro golpe esta semana con la publicación de un trabajo en Scientific Reports que pone en duda los análisis anatómicos en los que se basaba.
Carlos Magdalena 'has done things no one else can do’ but a thief has put at risk his work to save a tiny, rare plant. Tom Chivers reports In a little warm puddle in rural Rwanda, a tiny flower used to grow; a water lily, barely half an inch across.
A UW-Madison expert on vanilla orchids crosses the world to ensure that the spice it produces remains a valuable agricultural product.
Madison— To Ken Cameron, vanilla is a lot sexier than its name implies.
The world's leading expert on the biology of vanilla orchids sees the popular spice, not as plain or ordinary, but as a beautifully complex and valuable commodity produced from the world's largest family of plants.
While bottles of vanilla extract fly off store shelves at this time of year as holiday bakers mix it into cakes, pies and cookies, vanilla is much more than a pastry chef's favorite spice.
Deodorants, household cleaners, popular brands of vodka, pill coatings, the finest perfumes, even Coke and Pepsi count vanilla as an ingredient. And, of course, it's the No. 1 selling ice cream.
"I often tell people, 'I'll challenge you that within 10 minutes of waking, you will encounter vanilla,'" Cameron said in his book- and plant-filled office at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, where he's a botany professor and director of the Wisconsin State Herbarium."
Food security is a particular concern for Asia. The first reason is the sheer size of Asia’s undernourishment problem. According to a recent FAO report, of the 868 million people estimated to be undernourished in the world, 564 million, or 65 percent of the total, reside in countries of Asia (FAO 2012). Undernourished people constitute 14 percent of the population of Asia. The problem is particularly alarming with regard to children. Among several Asian countries the incidence of childhood stunting exceeds 40 percent.
Traditional knowledge, culture can be patented Times of India MUMBAI: Traditional Knowledge (TK) and Traditional Cultural Expression (TCE) reflecting a community's cultural and social identity, handed down generations, may soon be recognized as a...
Eve Emshwiller's insight:
Useful for topic on Intellectual Property, Traditional Knowledge, Biopiracy, and research ethics in ethnobotany course.
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