Farmers select landraces from wild plant populations. Landraces are useful for plant breeding. Genetic erosion is diminishing these valuable genetic resources and steps to retain these materials are required. Therefore, germplasm collection represents an important activity of agricultural scientists. From 1971 to 1973, two Japanese scientists made excursions to East Africa and collected ca. 2,000 accessions of tropical grasses, named the “Africa collection”. Within the collection, there are 140 guineagrass accessions, which is primarily a tetraploid (4x) form that reproduces through aposporous apomixis. A single, diploid (2x) sexual accession, GR297, was isolated from the collection and this accession played an important role for the breeding and molecular analysis of apomixis gene(s). During progeny testing of the open-pollinated GR297, a vigorous apomictic 4x hybrid plant, registered as cv. Natsukaze, was identified. Then, chromosome doubling of the GR297 was attempted to facilitate hybridization with 4x lines, and the 4x sexual line, Nekken No. 1 (Noh PL 1), was developed. This line has been utilized as a maternal parent for the development of new varieties, mapping and linkage analysis of apomixis. Even though the locus for apospory was identified, markers linked to the gene(s) exhibited no recombination. This apospory-specific genomic region was physically mapped by FISH to a single chromosome. Sorghum is cultivated as a forage crop in Japan. Germplasm of sorghum were collected with the cooperation of Myanmar and Kenya. Recently, sweet sorghum has attracted the interests of the biofuel industry for use as bioethanol feedstock. Radiation breeding has been applied to induce bm and bmr mutantions; which would be useful for efficient biofuel production. Mutation breeding elevates the frequency of natural mutation rates and can be efficiently utilized to develop new breeding materials. The importance of Genebank activities and mutation breeding towards biofuel production conducted within our center are discussed.
Afghanistan is a landlocked country of plains and mountains with a wide range of ecosystems. Its climate is continental, with cold winters and hot summers. Most of the country is semi-arid or arid, although the east is watered by the monsoon. The natural resources and associated biological diversity provide the basis of a livelihood for up to 80% of the population; agriculture, horticulture, animal husbandry, and forestry form the backbone of the economy. Afghanistan is rich in biodiversity and natural beauty, and is home to globally significant wildlife species such as Marco Polo sheep (Ovis ammon polii) and the snow leopard (Uncia uncia), which are under pressure from hunting, loss of habitat, and illegal trade. The most significant threats to natural resources are illegal hunting and trade, deforestation, desertification, and lack of law enforcement. In this situation, food security and sustainable agricultural development will remain a dream, and the causes of poverty and instability will be strengthened, both in Afghanistan and in the region. If Afghanistan is to develop into a vibrant nation with secure sustainable agricultural development, it must first halt the loss of its biodiversity, which requires international support and collaboration in national reconciliation, job creation, capacity building, raising of public awareness, and law enforcement. Healthy societies depend on a healthy environment that is rich in biodiversity, whose conservation is a must.
Multi-national scientific collaboration to address future biodiversity, food security, and climate change issues will require cultural intelligence and global navigation skills by future U.S. agricultural and natural resource (Ag-NR) scientists. However, undergraduate study abroad opportunities are largely absent for U.S. Ag-NR students, particularly in developing countries. In parallel, universities in non Anglophone countries, many in Asia, are seeking to building scientific capacity through graduate study abroad at institutions in the U.S. and publishing in the Englis-language international scientific literature. However, English speaking and listening skills of many such students are limited, a hinder to passing English proficiency exams required for study abroad and for improved scientific writing. We have developed the Service Learning-Undergraduate Study Abroad (SL-USA) to provide low cost study abroad opportunities for Ag-NR undergraduate students teaching English speaking and listening skills to graduate students and early career lecturers at partner institutions in Thailand and China. In exchange, the SL-USA students receive housing, field trips, and an immersive study abroad experience that builds cultural intelligence that is the basis for global navigation skills. To date, 14 SL-USA students from Utah State University have taught students at Kasetsart University in Thailand and Northwest Agriculture and Forestry University in China, improving English speaking and listening skills measured quantitatively and through self assessment of the Thai and Chinese students. The SL-USA students have benefitted from the study abroad experience, particularly in learning the parallels between cultural intelligence and the scientific method.
Plant genetic resources (PGR) for food and agriculture (PGRFA) are vital components of biodiversity. They meet human needs for food, fiber, shelter, and medicines, and contribute to trade and cultural traditions. They form building blocks for the adaptation, evolution, and survival of species and for crop improvement programs that support sustainable development. PGR loss is occurring at an alarming rate, and threatens global food security by decreasing the ability of crops to adapt to environmental and biotic challenges. Here, I discuss the causes of this genetic erosion. Crop genetic diversity must be conserved and used sustainably to ensure sustainable development. We must also train a critical mass of scientists to manage this resource, undertake research to increase utilization of PGRFA, and develop policies and legislation to guide their conservation and utilization. Conservation via ex situ or in situ strategies can guarantee the availability of PGRFA for present and future generations. Conservation through sustainable utilization promotes long-term conservation of these resources. Education and training in PGR conservation and management are important to increase the critical mass of trained staff on all aspects of PGR conservation and management. Post-graduate degrees in PGRFA conservation and management are now offered by the Philippines, India, and Malaysia to meet the regional need for trained staff. In addition, short-term training for stakeholders is provided by governments and nongovernmental organizations. Research on “allele mining”, especially to detect genes for adaptation to climate change and emerging pests and diseases, is necessary to increase the utilization of conserved germplasm, determine the scientific underpinnings of on-farm conservation, and develop the potential to identify and utilize novel products. Awareness of national and international policies and laws on biodiversity conservation and PGRFA must also be increased to improve the conservation and sustainable utilization of PGRFA.
The market for healthy food in Thailand is increasing rapidly due to growing recognition that food ingredients can causes diseases such as cancer and type 2 diabetes. Healthy food from natural products, and especially from whole grains such as brown rice, has become a priority for Thai consumers. Brown rice is rich in nutrients such as fiber and vitamins. However, brown rice has a high glycemic index and is therefore not suitable for patients with type 2 diabetes, since blood sugar and insulin levels increase rapidly after ingestion of this rice. The Khao Dok Mali 105 cultivar of brown rice has a low amylose content (12% to 17% by weight), and is popular in Thailand because of its flavor, aroma, and soft texture. However, cultivars such as Phisanurok 3 and Suphan Buri 1 with high starch amylose contents (23% to 26% by weight) are also in demand. Thai rice varieties normally contain degrees of crystallinity of A-type amylose, with a medium to fast digestion rate. Recently, researchers found that hig-temperature treatment (130 to 150°C) influenced the glycemic index of brown rice. Gelatinization was produced during the processing, and affected physical and chemical properties such as texture and starch digestibility. The processing decreased the degree of crystallinity (i.e., increased the proportion of V-type amylose) and produced amylose-lipid complexes in the brown rice, which slow digestion of the starch. Our study is the first to confirm these previous results for three popular Thai rice cultivars.
Mango (Mangifera indica L.), a member of the family Anarcardiaceae, is one of the most common fruits in Ghana and could easily be cultivated in the northern part of the country. Mango production, however, has been threatened by insect and disease problems since commercial-scale production started in the Upper West Region. Asian fruit flies of the genus Bactrocera are destructive pests of fruits and vegetables worldwide, but little information has been obtained on their prevalence and diversity in the region since the first formal detection of Bactrocera invadens in 2005. Systematic trapping and host-fruit surveys conducted in 2007 confirmed the presence B. invadens in the region. We examined the diversity of fruit flies and mealybugs that have been observed to be major threats to mango and other crops in the Upper West Region. Nine fruit fly species (B. invadens, Ceratitis ditissima, Ceratitis anonae, Ceratitis bremii, Ceratitis cosyra, Ceratitis capitata, Ceratitis rosa, Dacus bivittatus and Dacus vertebratus and four mealybug species (Pseudococcus longispinus, Paracoccus marginatus, Rastrococcus invadens and Icerya sp.) were identified during the survey. While mango was dominated by R. invadens, the ornamental plants were mostly affected by Icerya sp., papaw by P. marginatus, and Jatropha species infested by P. longispinus. The mealybug species were fairly common in the region. In certain cases, other pest species such as aphids and whiteflies were found in close association (in complex mixtures) with the mealybugs.
With a population of 40 million, an annual population growth rate of 2.7% and recent rainfall deficits threatening its food security, Kenya needs to engage in crop diversification at the national level, with a focus on targeting production of staples such as rice in suitable agro-ecological systems. Such enhanced production could play a key role in ensuring that food production gaps are sealed and improving overall national food security. Rice consumption in Kenya is increasing at a rate of 12% annually, as compared with 4% for wheat and 1% for maize. The annual consumption stands at about 300,000 t against a production of 80,000 t. Despite the increased consumption, there has been little growth in rice production despite the huge potential that exists in the country. The Ministry of Agriculture developed a comprehensive National Rice Development Strategy for the period 2008-2018, with the aim of doubling current production. The Rice Promotion Unit, in collaboration with the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA), conducted a questionnaire survey in the Mwea Irrigation Scheme, Kirinyaga District, to determine whether this target was achievable by identifying some key challenges that must be solved to meet the goal. Inefficient water management methods and water-rationing programs, crop damage caused by Quelea quelea and weaver birds, and expensive inputs were identified as key bottlenecks. Almost all production activities are done manually, resulting in health hazards and higher costs of production. The rice seed industry is informal, often with poor quality seeds that result in poor crop establishment and yield. Lack of a structured market and access to milling facilities has resulted to very low farm-gate prices. These challenges will affect all the other irrigation schemes currently in operation, as well as new ones. Producers of rain-fed rice will share some of these same challenges. Collaborative initiatives by all the stakeholders involved in every stage of the rice value chain must be emphasized. With accelerated support from local and international development partners such as JICA, rice production in Kenya could be doubled before 2018.
The submontane zone on Mount Salak is part of the tropical montane forest ecosystem on West Java. It is important to conserve the biodiversity of Mount Salak, especially the endemic and rare species found only on this mountain. The aims of this research were to determine the structure and composition of the tree species, including species diversity, for all stands in vegetation types classified at the alliance level in the submontane zone of Mount Salak, Bogor, West Java. Vegetation was surveyed in alliance 1, alliance 2, and alliance 3. We counted each tree, measured its basal area, and identified it to the species level. Tree data were used to determine an importance value index of every species from all stands. We also examined the species diversity of each stand using three indexes: the Shannon-Wiener diversity index (H′), Pilou's evenness index (e), and Menhinick's richness index (R). There were 72 tree species found in alliance 1. Schima wallichii was the species with the largest number of individuals, whereas Pinanga javana, Dysoxylum excelsum, and Antidesma tetrandrum were represented by only one individual. There were 71 tree species found in alliance 2. Pinus merkusii had the largest number of individuals, and Glochidion rubrum, Goniothalamus macrophyllus, Schefflera scandens, Gluta renghas, Antidesma tetrandrum, Dissochaeta gracilis, and Polygala venenosa were represented by one individual. There were 56 tree species in alliance 3. Pinus merkusii had the largest number of individuals, and Pithecellobium montanum, Calliandra tetragona, Polygala venenosa, Dipterocarpus hasseltii, and Symplocos spicata were represented by one individual. The H′ values in stands of alliance 1 (mixed forest) ranged from 2.666 to 3.391, stands of alliance 2 (bamboo forest) from 1.163 to 3.233, and stands of alliance 3 (forest plantation) from 1.683 to 3.498. The ranges of e values for alliances 1, 2, and 3 were 1.136-1.403, 0.551-1.331, and 0.770-1.434, respectively. The ranges of R values for alliances 1, 2, and 3 were 1.691-2.662, 0.621-2.829, and 1.051-2.588, respectively.
The Nganjuk District experiences a tropical monsoon regime characterized by annual rainy and dry seasons, and the area receives approximately 80% of annual precipitation within the 5 to 6 months of the rainy season. The district has three planting seasons, the wet season (November-February), first dry season (March-June), and second dry season (July-October). A main factor of agricultural production sustainability is managing for climatic variability. The main cause of variability is the El Niño Southern Oscillation, with El Niño years having below-average rainfall and La Niña years having above-average rainfall. Water shortages in the dry season are a problem, especially in El Niño years, whereas flooding occurs in La Niña years. We analyzed trends in agricultural production and the impact of El Niño and La Niña events in a tropical monsoon region by performing a case study of Nganjuk District in eastern Java Island. Groundwater use for conjunctive irrigation in the dry season increased agricultural production by about 0.5 crops yr-1. In El Niño years, groundwater was required for irrigation in the dry season, whereas in La Niña years surface water was almost sufficient or exceeded the demand for irrigation water in the dry season. The harvest index of rice was relatively stable, with a small increasing tendency from 1982 to 2010 (1.22 to 1.82 crops yr-1), and was not influenced by El Niño or La Niña events. Secondary crop production fluctuated, and the failed-harvest index increased in La Niña years. Agricultural production was more secure when farmers applied conjunctive irrigation. Because secondary crops are vulnerable to waterlogging under excess water conditions, early warning of a La Niña year is important so farmers can adopt a farming strategy that will avoid harvest failure in the dry season.
This study was conducted to assess the dynamics of on-farm management of varietal diversity, i.e. continued cultivation of different varieties in their farms, determine socio-economic and cultural variables influencing varietal maintenance and seed sources, and determine the level and potential for on-farm conservation of traditional rice in the central Cordillera, Philippines. Results showed that rice is not only a basic staple but also an economic product for barter and trade; a raw material for traditional foods and beverages; and a commodity for social, cultural, and religious uses. Almost 90% of the 466 recorded varieties were traditional types, with non-glutinous varieties accounting for 77%. Farmers considered adaptation to local agro-ecological conditions, good eating qualities, agriculturally desirable plant characteristics, panicle and grain characteristics, and satisfactory yield performance as desirable traits of local landraces. Negative characteristics were late maturity, slow biomass decomposition, and low yield potential. Seed selection, variety selection, seed exchange and certain gender roles on seed and variety selection can be associated with continued maintenance of traditional varieties on-farm. The level of on-farm conservation of rice diversity was found to be moderate to slightly high, while the potential for conservation was moderate. Respondents have discarded or lost varieties due to low yield, susceptibility to pests and disease, replacement by a new variety, and loss of seed stocks. The level and potential for on-farm conservation of varieties can be related with cultural and demographic variables, such as number of years in farming, gender, affinity to ethnic customs, and traditions and religious practices. A significant amount of varietal diversity is still maintained through on-farm conservation across the central Cordillera. Agro-ecological, socio-economic, and cultural factors, as well as traditional agricultural practices, influence the continuing conservation and utilization of these diverse varieties. However, modern farming influences and changing preferences threaten the on-farm diversity of landraces. Ways by which this diversity can be maintained and effectively sustain the needs of highland rice farming in the central Cordillera should be explored.
Zingiber officinale (ginger) is the one of most commonly used spices and is a traditional herbal medicine in Thailand. Thailand is home to various Zingiber wild species. However, the biological activity evidence of these other species is less well studied than that of Z. officinale. In this study, we investigated the rhizomes of 10 Zingiber species to determine the correlations between total phenolic content, total curcuminoid content, and antioxidant activity, as determined by means of DPPH (2,2-Diphenyl-l-picrylhydrazyl) and ABTS (2,2′-azinobis-(3-ethylbenzothiazoline-6-sulfonic acid) diammonium salt) assays. We also used high-performance liquid chromatography and gas chromatography to determine the quantities of 6-gingerol and terpinen-4-ol, respectively which are the two most important active compounds associated with antioxidant and anti-inflammatory action. Antioxidant activity was highly correlated with total phenolic content. To the best of our knowledge, this is the first report of the antioxidant activities of three of the species (Z. rubens, Z. bisectum, and Z. barbatum). The rhizome extracts of Z. montanum showed the highest total curcuminoid content and yielded the highest amount of essential oil and terpinen-4-ol content. 6-Gingerol was detected in only two species: Z. officinale and Z. cornubracteatum. Our results suggest that Z. montanum may be an excellent natural remedy owing to its considerable antioxidant activity and the large amounts of known bioactive chemical constituents it contains. It may be a source of additional bioactive compounds.
Mining operations, despite their significant contribution to the Indonesian national income, have been criticized for causing environmental degradation and biodiversity loss. The removal of vegetation, soil, and overburden (i.e., rock covering coal or ores) before excavating coal and mineral ores destroys ecosystems and degrades soil quality. After a mining operation is completed, an extensive open area with one or several ponds needs to be restored. In the last decade there has been significant progress in the management of former mine sites in Indonesia. New policies based on tougher regulations and supervision, the education of mining staff, and awards for environmentally sound practices have stimulated mining companies to integrate biodiversity conservation and agricultural production into their mine reclamation programs to ensure sustainable development of the local area as well as nationally. In their mine reclamation programs, several companies have replaced monocultures of exotic tree species, especially Acacia mangium and Falcataria moluccana, with diverse local tree species, such as ebony (Diospyros celebica), ironwood (Eusideroxylon zwageri), and many dipterocarp species, merbau (Intsia spp.). Model systems for the integration of agricultural production on former mine sites have also been demonstrated, such as growing cover crops to reduce surface erosion and as fodder for cattle farming as well as growing food crops (upland rice and sorghum), estate crops (oil palm, rubber, and cacao), and biofuel crops (Jatropha, Calophyllum). Vast ponds have been converted into productive fish or shrimp farms or are being used as water reservoirs to supply high-quality fresh water for the companies as well as nearby towns. However, studies are still needed to investigate the productivity and safety of products from former mine sites. Education and capacity-building programs to prepare competent mining staff to manage and utilize former mine sites for biodiversity conservation and agricultural production are also needed.
‘Food security’ has always been a prime issue for the development and progress of human civilization. However, in spite of all technological, scientific, and agricultural achievements the secure and affordable supply of safe and nutritious food to the population is still in an alarming state. In the year 2007 alone, the number of hungry people increased by 75 million and expected to reach to 1.2 billion worldwide by 2017. Among the various reasons responsible for rising food crisis, ‘global environmental change’ can be considered as one of the most critical factors today. Among the environmental factors, increasing tropospheric or surface level ozone (O3) levels has been recognized as a major cause for declining plant growth and crop yield. According to the IPCC (2007) report, concentration of tropospheric O3 is estimated to have increased from approximately 10 ppb prior in the industrial revolution to a current level of about 60 ppb during summer months, and is predicted to increase 20-40% more by 2050 in the industrialized countries of the Northern Hemisphere. Like other tropical countries, India is also under the severe threat of O3 pollution. The present review mainly focuses on the responses of rice (Oryza sativa L. cultivars - Malviya dhan 36 and Shivani) and wheat (Triticum aestivum L. cultivars - Sonalika and HUW 510) plants to elevated levels of O3-stress at Indian context through a combination of physiology and high-throughput proteomics analyses using open top chambers (OTCs). Experimental sets were prepared as: filtered chambers (FCs) with almost negligible O3, non-filtered chambers (NFCs) with ambient O3, non-filtered chambers with 10 ppb O3 fumigation (NFCLOs), and non-filtered chambers with 20 ppb O3 fumigation (NFCHOs). Notably, O3 causes significant induction in major cellular antioxidants, and negatively affects photosynthetic machinery in both rice and wheat plants. Proteomics analysis revealed that O3 strongly inhibits the expression of major photosynthetic and important energy metabolism proteins, and induced the defense or stress related proteins. Proteomics, writing simply, refers to the study of all the proteins in a cell, tissue or organism, and is part of three young, high-throughput ‘omics’ technologies of genomics (transcriptomics), proteomics, and metabolomics. Random Amplified Polymorphic DNA (RAPD) analysis also revealed significant damage in genome template stability of both the crops under O3 stress, hence indicating toward the mutagenic ability of O3. We believe that present results are a small but necessary step forward in developing O3-tolerant rice and wheat genotypes, which can be utilized in the future high O3 world for their optimum growth and yield.