tropical crop

"Yam endangered and under-researched" says important African food crop

Do we know enough about all crops of the world before we step into teasing evolution within the pool of a tiny number of species? Not well discussed and not well understood, an important tropical crop in Africa and other parts of the world reports: "Yam not a grain, yet I feed 60 million people every day. Yam a productive and valuable crop for farmers, getting as large as 2.5 meters long and weigh up to 70 kilograms. However, you know so little about how much I can give". Read the full story about the efforts of the Global Crop Diversity Trust (GCDT) for saving endangered yams in this month's Scientific American.

Oral Presentations II: Genetic Diversity

This is a flavour of one of the six presentations that occurred in the Genetic Resources Oral Presentations on Wednesday, September 15th. Genetic Diversity and Adaptation of Date Palm (Pheonix dactylifera L.) – Sakina Elshibli The date palm produces sugar rich fruits which are cultivated in arid areas of the world. One kilogram of dates produces approximately 3000 calories. Palm dates also contain a wide range of nutrients, vitamins, and amino acids. The date palm can tolerate drought, but when the fruit is cultivated irrigation is needed. Date palms are useful because they provide small microclimates through shade. They also have a wide range of social and economic values, such as a housing material. This is especially true in Sudan where this study was carried out. There is an apparent diversity of date palms (fruit shape, side leaf structure, and morphology stages.) Dates are usually divided into two groups: dry and soft. In Sudan there is no genetic characterization of morphological variability in date palms. Over past twenty years production has increased, however stresses have also increased. These stresses include: floods, spread of diseases, desertification, and drought. Propagation is also a main constraint to increased cultivation. Date palm seeds are not suitable for cloning. It is only possible for few cultivars to be cloned, leading to date palm monocultures. A high percentage of off-types increase the risk of contamination for traditional cultivars.
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