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Ethnobotany: plants and people
Plants and peoples and their interactions
Curated by Eve Emshwiller
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Rescooped by Eve Emshwiller from Archaeobotany and Domestication
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The Archaeobotanist: The eastern fertile crescent returns

The Archaeobotanist: The eastern fertile crescent returns | Ethnobotany: plants and people | Scoop.it

The recent paper in Science by Riehl et al. on the evidence for Chogah Golan has rightly garnerd wide attention (e.g. Science news; commentary by Willcox). This is a highly significant paper, which shows that the beginnings of cultivation were indeed mutlicentric within the fertile ccrescent, and it suggests that there was an independent domestication process for emmer wheat in the eastern fertile crescent in addition to that in the western fertile crescent.

 

Are there surprises? Yes. The big surprise here is the emmer wheat domestication, as many have argued on biogeographical and modern genetic grounds that there should have been and eastern and western barley domestication, but this has been little considered for wheat. 


Via Dorian Q Fuller
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Dorian Q Fuller's curator insight, July 15, 2013 7:33 AM

my quick digestion of, digression from, the recent Science paper by Riehl, et al.

Rescooped by Eve Emshwiller from Africa and Beyond
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Helping the most vulnerable farmers adapt to climate change – lessons from a Farm Africa project

Helping the most vulnerable farmers adapt to climate change – lessons from a Farm Africa project | Ethnobotany: plants and people | Scoop.it
By Jonathan Finnighan Helping the most vulnerable farmers adapt to climate change – lessons from a Farm Africa project The first thing that strikes me about Mwangangi’s farm is that it looks abando...

...The impact evaluation found that two-thirds of the farmers in the project are now using new micro-catchments on their farms, and about half started cultivating drought tolerant crops that they weren’t before. Crop yields from zai pits greatly improved, especially for farmers with very arid soils: many reported that their yields tripled or more. And on average, farmers estimated that their families had an additional month of food from their harvests after using the new farming methods, and that this allowed them to spend more money on things other than food – such as buying animals and farming inputs and improving their home.


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diana buja's curator insight, July 9, 2013 2:47 AM

The zai pits described in this piece are indigenous to parts of the Sudanese Sahel.  They work quite well in water-stressed areas, and I'm glad to see them being introduced in Kenya.

Farm Africa has been doing some interesting work in east Africa.  More than many other NGOs, their follow-up over the longterm is generally quite good.  And that's where many of the problems of improvements or new technologies being continued are located - lack of ongoing assessment and assistance.

Rescooped by Eve Emshwiller from Pre-Modern Africa, the Middle East - and Beyond
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Agriculture's roots spread east to Iran | Humans | Science News

Agriculture's roots spread east to Iran | Humans | Science News | Ethnobotany: plants and people | Scoop.it

Agriculture originated across a broader swath of southwestern Asia’s Fertile Crescent, and over a longer time period, than many scientists have thought, excavations in western Iran suggest.

Between 11,700 and 9,800 years ago, residents of Chogha Golan, a settlement in the foothills of Iran’s Zagros Mountains, went from cultivating wild ancestors of modern crops to growing a form of domesticated wheat called emmer, say archaeobotanist Simone Riehl of the University of Tübingen, Germany, and her colleagues. Until now, most evidence of farming’s origins came from sites 700 to 1,500 kilometers west of Chogha Golan, the scientists report in the July 5Science.


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KEW GARDENS - Beyond the Gardens: The Forgotten Home of Coffee

A story of guardianship by Kew over one of the world's most economically valuable crops, we reveal the surprisingly fragile foundations that lie beneath the multi-billion…
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Nice introduction to problems of low diversity in crops, featuring many people's favorite stimulating beverage.

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Rescooped by Eve Emshwiller from Rice origins and cultural history
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Trends in Genetics - Resequencing rice genomes: an emerging new era of rice genomics

Trends in Genetics - Resequencing rice genomes: an emerging new era of rice genomics | Ethnobotany: plants and people | Scoop.it

Rice is a model system for crop genomics studies. Much of the early work on rice genomics focused on analyzing genome-wide genetic variation to further understand rice gene functions in agronomic traits and to generate data and resources for rice research. The advent of next-generation high-throughput DNA sequencing technologies and the completion of high-quality reference genome sequences have enabled the development of sequencing-based genotyping and genome-wide association studies (GWAS) that have significantly advanced rice genetics research. This has led to the emergence of a new era of rice genomics aimed at bridging the knowledge gap between genotype and phenotype in rice. These technologies have also led to pyramid breeding through genomics-assisted selection, which will be useful in breeding elite varieties suitable for sustainable agriculture. Here, we review the recent advances in rice genomics and discuss the future of this line of research.


Via Jennifer Mach, Ricardo Oliva, Dorian Q Fuller
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Rescooped by Eve Emshwiller from Articles Published by CIP Staff
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Disentangling the Origins of Cultivated Sweet Potato (Ipomoea batatas (L.) Lam.)

Disentangling the Origins of Cultivated Sweet Potato (Ipomoea batatas (L.) Lam.) | Ethnobotany: plants and people | Scoop.it

Via International Potato Center (CIP)
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International Potato Center (CIP)'s curator insight, July 5, 2013 10:20 AM

Roullier C, Duputie A, Wennekes P, Benoit L, Fernandez Bringas VM,  Rossel, G, Tay, D, McKey, D, Lebot, V (2013) Disentangling the Origins of Cultivated Sweet Potato (Ipomoea batatas (L.) Lam.). PLoS ONE 8(5): e62707. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0062707

Sweet potato (Ipomoea batatas (L.) Lam., Convolvulaceae) counts among the most widely cultivated staple crops worldwide, yet the origins of its domestication remain unclear. This hexaploid species could have had either an autopolyploid origin, from the diploid I. trifida, or an allopolyploid origin, involving genomes of I. trifida and I. triloba.

Rescooped by Eve Emshwiller from Plant Biology Teaching Resources (Higher Education)
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PNAS Special Feature: Agricultural innovation to protect the environment

PNAS Special Feature: Agricultural innovation to protect the environment | Ethnobotany: plants and people | Scoop.it

This might be useful - a set of articles about agricultural planning and practices.

 

This image, from the journal cover, courtesy of Agni Klintuni Boedhihartono.


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Medicinal Herbs and Plants: Elderberry - 12 Exotic Healing Foods ...

Medicinal Herbs and Plants: Elderberry - 12 Exotic Healing Foods ... | Ethnobotany: plants and people | Scoop.it
These 12 medicinal herbs and plants have amazing healing powers, from soothing skin to fighting stress to improving sleep, and they're widely available in health food stores.
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Rescooped by Eve Emshwiller from Erba Volant - Applied Plant Science
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Kew Gardens - Beyond the Gardens - The Forgotten Home of Coffee

There are now 125 species of coffee, but we only use two of them to produce the drink we know and love; Robusta and Arabica. Coffee is one of the world's fav...

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Ana G. Valenzuela Zapata's curator insight, June 25, 2013 4:13 AM

Plantations, genetical variation and research

Rescooped by Eve Emshwiller from Tequila and Mezcal
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A new agenda for blue agave landraces: food, energy and tequila - VALENZUELA - 2010 - GCB Bioenergy - Wiley Online Library

A new agenda for blue agave landraces: food, energy and tequila - VALENZUELA - 2010 - GCB Bioenergy - Wiley Online Library | Ethnobotany: plants and people | Scoop.it

Via Ana G. Valenzuela Zapata
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Ana G. Valenzuela Zapata's curator insight, April 17, 2013 3:36 AM

Blue agave cultivars- traditional landraces

Ana G. Valenzuela Zapata's comment, April 23, 2013 3:43 AM
Monovarietal trends affected tequila agaves cultivars, here the diversity and new uses for blue agave Agave tequilana.
Rescooped by Eve Emshwiller from Agricultural Biodiversity
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Archiving Eden: Dornith Doherty at TEDxMonterey

Dornith Doherty, a 2012-2013 Guggenheim Fellow, was born in Houston, Texas and is a Professor of Photography at the University of North Texas. In her TEDxMon...


Via Luigi Guarino
Eve Emshwiller's insight:

A photographer interprets seed banks.

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Rescooped by Eve Emshwiller from Agricultural Biodiversity
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Crop Genetic Resources as a Global Commons | Platform for ...

Crop Genetic Resources as a Global Commons | Platform for ... | Ethnobotany: plants and people | Scoop.it

The overall goal of the Platform for Agrobiodiversity Research is to enhance the sustainable management and use of agricultural biodiversity for meeting human needs by improving knowledge of all its different aspects.


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Rescooped by Eve Emshwiller from Articles Published by CIP Staff
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Composition and Analysis - Total phenolic, total anthocyanin and phenolic acid concentrations and antioxidant activity of purple-fleshed potatoes as affected by ...

Composition and Analysis - Total phenolic, total anthocyanin and phenolic acid concentrations and antioxidant activity of purple-fleshed potatoes as affected by ... | Ethnobotany: plants and people | Scoop.it

Via International Potato Center (CIP)
Eve Emshwiller's insight:

what cooking does to antioxidants, etc.

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International Potato Center (CIP)'s curator insight, May 3, 2013 3:20 PM

Burgos, G.; Amoros, W.; Munoa, L.; Sosa, P.; Cayhualla, C.; Sanchez, C. ; Diaz, C.; Bonierbale, M. 2013. Total phenolic, total anthocyanin and phenolic acid concentrations and antioxidant activity of purple-fleshed potatoes as affected by boiling. Journal of Food Composition and Analysis. (USA). ISSN 0889-1575. 30(1):6-12.http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.jfca.2012.12.001

 The present study aims at evaluating the effects of boiling on the TP, TA and PA concentrations and AA of four native Andean purple potato accessions with diverse purple flesh color. In the initial part of this study, extraction methods for analysis of TP, TA, CA and AA were tested and optimized in raw and cooked freeze dried potato samples..

Rescooped by Eve Emshwiller from Articles Published by CIP Staff
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Mixing methods for rich and meaningful insight

Mixing methods for rich and meaningful insight | Ethnobotany: plants and people | Scoop.it

Via International Potato Center (CIP)
Eve Emshwiller's insight:

Will be interesting to read this.

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International Potato Center (CIP)'s curator insight, August 1, 2013 12:50 PM

Pradel, W.; Cole, D.; Prain, G. (2013) Mixing methods for rich and meaningful insight: Evaluating changes in an agricultural intervention project in the Central Andes. BetterEvaluation.

The different perceptions of participants regarding the effectiveness of a project can, at times, be hard to identify. Therefore it can become extremely difficult to effectively incorporate these differences of opinion into an evaluation so that they make sense. This article provides a detailed examination of how this was done during a project among small vegetable producers in the Andes in 2010.

Rescooped by Eve Emshwiller from Archaeobotany and Domestication
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Scanning Electron and Optical Light Microscopy: two complementary approaches for the understanding and interpretation of usewear and residues on stone tools

Scanning Electron and Optical Light Microscopy: two complementary approaches for the understanding and interpretation of usewear and residues on stone tools | Ethnobotany: plants and people | Scoop.it

Usewear analysis is now well established as a powerful means by which to identify the function of stone tools excavated from archaeological sites. However, one of the main issues for usewear analysts is still to provide quantified analyses and interpretations. Several attempts have yielded promising results but have not, as of yet, been widely applied and usewear analyses are still mainly performed using either Scanning Electron Microscopy (SEM) or Optical Light Microscopy (OLM). The systematic comparison of micrographs from both types of microscope presented here enables us to discuss the advantages and disadvantages of each system. Furthermore, it shows beginners or experts using only one type of microscope that these techniques are complementary and should be considered as such. It also represents a significant basis for developing the implementation of quantitative methods for usewear analysis with SEM and OLM.


Via Dorian Q Fuller
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Dorian Q Fuller's curator insight, July 16, 2013 2:03 AM

Looks like some promising methodological developments in this often problematic field, which can contribute to a more integrated view on past plant use

Rescooped by Eve Emshwiller from Archaeobotany and Domestication
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Contrasts in the large herbivore faunas of the southern continents in the late Pleistocene and the ecological implications for human origins - Owen-Smith - 2013 - Journal of Biogeography - Wiley On...

Contrasts in the large herbivore faunas of the southern continents in the late Pleistocene and the ecological implications for human origins - Owen-Smith - 2013 - Journal of Biogeography - Wiley On... | Ethnobotany: plants and people | Scoop.it

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Worthwhile Canadian Initiative: Do use Wikipedia as a reference

Worthwhile Canadian Initiative: Do use Wikipedia as a reference | Ethnobotany: plants and people | Scoop.it
I wish professors would stop saying to students "Do not use Wikipedia as a reference." What the professor means is "Do not read Wikipedia. Do not take ideas from Wikipedia.
Eve Emshwiller's insight:

See the interesting discussion about how to talk to students about how or whether to use and cite Wikipedia in writing assignments.

hat tip:  Marc F. Bellemare ‏@mfbellemare

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Mary Williams's curator insight, July 15, 2013 11:18 AM

The comments are definitely worth reading

AckerbauHalle's curator insight, July 15, 2013 1:34 PM

Das ist schon spannend. Wie soll Wikipedia als Quelle eingesetzt werden?

Rescooped by Eve Emshwiller from Archaeobotany and Domestication
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Patterns and processes in crop domestication: a historical review and quantitative analysis of 203 global food crops

Domesticated food crops are derived from a phylogenetically diverse assemblage of wild ancestors through artificial selection for different traits. Our understanding of domestication, however, is based upon a subset of well-studied “model” crops, many of them from the Poaceae family. We investigate domestication traits and theories using a broader range of crops. We reviewed domestication information (e.g., center of domestication, plant traits, wild ancestors, domestication dates, domestication traits, early and current uses) for 203 major and minor food crops. Compiled data were used to test classic and contemporary theories in crop domestication. Many typical features of domestication associated with model crops, including changes in ploidy level, loss of shattering, multiple origins, and domestication outside the native range, are less common within this broader dataset. In addition, there are strong spatial and temporal trends in our dataset. The overall time required to domesticate a species has decreased since the earliest domestication events. The frequencies of some domestication syndrome traits (e.g., non-shattering) have decreased over time, while others (e.g., changes to secondary metabolites) have increased. We discuss the influences of the ecological, evolutionary, cultural and technological factors that make domestication a dynamic and ongoing process.


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Dorian Q Fuller's curator insight, June 25, 2013 6:46 AM

Access to this recent Tansley review article with an updated database of references and info on 203 crops

Rescooped by Eve Emshwiller from Agricultural Biodiversity
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Quinoa and other Andean grains get their chance

The Fourth World Congress on Quinoa and the First International Symposium on Andean Grains are happening next week, 8-12 July 2013, in Quito, Ecuador. Our friends from Bioversity will be there in force.

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Dr. Andrew Weil Awarded the H.H. Rusby Award for Ethnobotany and Ethnomedicine

Dr. Andrew Weil awarded the H.H. Rusby award for ethnobotany and ethnomedicine. (RT @DrWeil: I was awarded the H.H.

Eve Emshwiller's insight:

Introduction and narration by Michael Balick includes brief bio about H. H. Rusby

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Ana G. Valenzuela Zapata's comment, June 25, 2013 4:03 AM
Rusby a vissionary
Rescooped by Eve Emshwiller from Botany teaching & cetera
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The Gut-Wrenching Science Behind the World’s Hottest Peppers

The Gut-Wrenching Science Behind the World’s Hottest Peppers | Ethnobotany: plants and people | Scoop.it
While contestants take their seats onstage, an emcee recites rules. Competitors have 20 seconds to eat as many chilies as they can. Peppers must be chewed at least three times, to ensure the release of the pain-causing ingredient; the highest concentration of capsaicin is in the lining of the pepper—its placenta—and the seeds. (The chili plant, like any good mother, is protective of its offspring.)

 


Via Meristemi, Eve Emshwiller
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Eve Emshwiller's curator insight, June 6, 2013 12:59 AM

Peppers always get attention.

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Chemical forensics confirm French wine had early roots

Chemical forensics confirm French wine had early roots | Ethnobotany: plants and people | Scoop.it
Ancient jars hold residue of 2,500-year-old vintage.
Eve Emshwiller's insight:

Nice example of biochemical archaeology.  (H/T @AgroBioDiverse)

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Rescooped by Eve Emshwiller from Agricultural Biodiversity
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Experts call for action to address the loss of knowledge about plants

Experts call for action to address the loss of knowledge about plants | Ethnobotany: plants and people | Scoop.it

Concerned by the alarming loss of plant species, on 1-2 May international experts met in St Louis, USA, calling for a concerted worldwide effort to address the loss of essential knowledge about plants and their uses, especially at the level of...


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Rescooped by Eve Emshwiller from Agricultural Biodiversity
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Core descriptors for in situ conservation of crop wild relatives published

Core descriptors for in situ conservation of crop wild relatives published | Ethnobotany: plants and people | Scoop.it

Core descriptors for in situ conservation of crop wild relatives is the new addition to the Bioversity International Descriptor series.


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Rescooped by Eve Emshwiller from Rice origins and cultural history
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Archaeobotanical implications of phytolith assemblages from cultivated rice systems, wild rice stands and macro-regional patterns

Archaeobotanical implications of phytolith assemblages from cultivated rice systems, wild rice stands and macro-regional patterns | Ethnobotany: plants and people | Scoop.it

Rice can be cultivated in a range of arable systems, including upland rainfed, lowland rainfed or irrigated, flooded or décrue, and deep water cultivation. These agricultural regimes represent ecosystems controlled to large degree by agricultural practices, and can be shown to produce different weed flora assemblages. In order to reconstruct early rice cultivation systems it is necessary to better establish how ancient rice farming practices may be seen using archaeobotanical data. This paper focuses on using modern analogue phytolith assemblages of associated crop weeds found within cultivation regimes, as well as in wild rice stands (unplanted stands of Oryza nivara or O. rufipogon), as a means of interpreting archaeobotanical assemblages. Rice weeds and sediment samples have been recorded and collected from a range of arable systems and wild stands in India. The husks, leaves and culms of associated weeds were processed for phytolith reference samples, and sediment samples were processed for phytoliths in order to establish patterns identifiable to specific systems. The preliminary results of the phytolith analysis of samples from these modern fields demonstrate that phytolith assemblage statistics show correlation with variation in rice cultivation systems on the basis of differences in environmental conditions and regimes, with wetness being one major factor. Analysis of phytoliths from archaeological samples from contrasting systems in Neolithic China and India demonstrate how this method can be applied to separate archaeological regions and periods based on inferred differences in past agricultural practices, identifying wet cultivation systems in China, dry millet-dominated agriculture of north China and rainfed/dry rice in Neolithic India.


Via Dorian Q Fuller
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Dorian Q Fuller's curator insight, May 17, 2013 4:15 AM

We present a new methodology for identifying ancient rice arable systems.

We create modern analogues of phytolith assemblages of rice weeds from modern fields.

These analogues are used as models to understand archaeobotanical samples.

We present an analysis of different systems from Neolithic India and China.

More studiies applying and improving on this study are underway now as part of the rice project, which recieved further NERC support: http://www.ucl.ac.uk/archaeology/calendar/articles/20130509b

Dorian Q Fuller's curator insight, May 17, 2013 4:15 AM

next we will be expanding on this sort of analysis in the Lower Yangtze...watch this space.