NUS species in the spotlight

Next week in Accra, Ghana, The 3rd International Conference on: Neglected and Underutilized Species (NUS): for a Food-Secure Africa will be held from the 25-27 September.

The programme will be of great interest to researchers working in this field, and consists of three main themes with related sub-themes:
Theme 1: Resilience of agricultural and livelihood systems.
a) Diversification for food security in Sub-Saharan Africa.
b) NUS for nutrition and health.
Theme 2: Upgrading value chains of neglected and underutilized species.
Theme 3: Creating an enabling policy environment.
a) Policy frameworks.
b) Capacity development and institutions.
c) Partnership, projects, platforms.

A newly published strategic analysis of NUS entitled “Fighting Poverty, Hunger and Malnutrition with Neglected and Underutilized Species – Needs, Challenges and the Way Forward” will be launched at the conference; and participants will have the chance to view the travelling exhibition on quinoa,  one of the crops considered part of the NUS family.

Learn more from the main conference website.

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Bioversity International annual report 2012

We are pleased to launch the Bioversity International 2012 Annual Report, available as an interactive digital publication and as a downloadable PDF. In the report, you will find highlights of our work in 2012 showing how research on agricultural and forest biodiversity can help achieve a sustainable future. Continue reading

Posted in Biodiversity, Bioversity Publications, Research | Leave a comment

PNAS OA article: Comparative transcriptomics reveals patterns of selection in domesticated and wild tomato

Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences

9 July 2013; Vol. 110, No. 28

Comparative transcriptomics reveals patterns of selection in domesticated and wild tomato  OPEN ACCESS ARTICLE

 One of the most important technological advances by humans is the domestication of plant species for the production of food. We have used high-throughput sequencing to identify changes in DNA sequence and gene expression that differentiate cultivated tomato and its wild relatives. We also identify hundreds of candidate genes that have evolved new protein sequences or have changed expression levels in response to natural selection in wild tomato relatives. Taken together, our analyses provide a snapshot of genome evolution under artificial and natural conditions


Although applied over extremely short timescales, artificial selection has dramatically altered the form, physiology, and life history of cultivated plants. We have used RNAseq to define both gene sequence and expression divergence between cultivated tomato and five related wild species. Based on sequence differences, we detect footprints of positive selection in over 50 genes. We also document thousands of shifts in gene-expression level, many of which resulted from changes in selection pressure. These rapidly evolving genes are commonly associated with environmental response and stress tolerance. The importance of environmental inputs during evolution of gene expression is further highlighted by large-scale alteration of the light response coexpression network between wild and cultivated accessions. Human manipulation of the genome has heavily impacted the tomato transcriptome through directed admixture and by indirectly favoring nonsynonymous over synonymous substitutions. Taken together, our results shed light on the pervasive effects artificial and natural selection have had on the transcriptomes of tomato and its wild relatives.

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Science’s article: Sustainable Intensification in Agriculture: Premises and Policies

Science 5 July 2013:
Vol. 341 no. 6141 pp. 33-34
DOI: 10.1126/science.1234485

Policy Forum

Sustainable Intensification in Agriculture: Premises and Policies

  1.      T. Garnett1 et al.


Food security is high on the global policy agenda. Demand for food is increasing as populations grow and gain wealth to purchase more varied and resource-intensive diets. There is increased competition for land, water, energy, and other inputs into food production. Climate change poses challenges to agriculture, particularly in developing countries (1), and many current farming practices damage the environment and are a major source of greenhouse gases (GHG). In an increasingly globalized world, food insecurity in one region can have widespread political and economic ramifications (2).

The access to the full text to this journal article is restricted to the journal subscribers.

Read the Full Text

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Nature’s comment: Agriculture: Feeding the future

Agriculture: Feeding the future

Susan McCouch et al.

Nature: 499, Pages:23–24 Date published:(04 July 2013) DOI:doi:10.1038/499023a

We must mine the biodiversity in seed banks to help to overcome food shortages, urge Susan McCouch and colleagues



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PNAS article: Several scales of biodiversity affect ecosystem multifunctionality

doi: 10.1073/pnas.1220333110
PNAS June 3, 2013

Several scales of biodiversity affect ecosystem multifunctionality

Jae R. Pasari,  Taal Levi Erika S. Zavaleta, and David Tilman

Edited by Mary E. Power, University of California, Berkeley, CA, and approved May 6, 2013 (received for review November 28, 2012)


Society values landscapes that reliably provide many ecosystem functions. As the study of ecosystem functioning expands to include more locations, time spans, and functions, the functional importance of individual species is becoming more apparent. However, the functional importance of individual species does not necessarily translate to the functional importance of biodiversity measured in whole communities of interacting species. Furthermore, ecological diversity at scales larger than neighborhood species richness could also influence the provision of multiple functions over extended time scales. We created experimental landscapes based on whole communities from the world’s longest running biodiversity-functioning field experiment to investigate how local species richness (α diversity), distinctness among communities (β diversity), and larger scale species richness (γ diversity) affected eight ecosystem functions over 10 y. Using both threshold-based and unique multifunctionality metrics, we found that α diversity had strong positive effects on most individual functions and multifunctionality, and that positive effects of β and γ diversity emerged only when multiple functions were considered simultaneously. Higher β diversity also reduced the variability in multifunctionality. Thus, in addition to conserving important species, maintaining ecosystem multifunctionality will require diverse landscape mosaics of diverse communities.

The full-text access to this article is restricted to PNAS subscribers

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Anti-hunger campaign “If”

The world produces enough food for everyone, but not everyone has enough food.
Anti-hunger campaign ‘If’ has launched a catchy and pleasing video that tackles a an important topic, and launches a call for the G8 countries to end global hunger with decisive actions.

Video | Posted on by | Leave a comment