Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

The Terra Ficaria Prize: preserving and managing the plant world

19.01.2007
Cassava and all clonally propagated plants (reproduced from cuttings) allow farmers the possibility of selecting and propagating the best plants in their fields.

However, these copies of plants, made over several generations, bring a major risk: a reduction in genetic diversity, which can in turn lead to the loss of the plant's adaptability to its environment. Nevertheless, Amerindian communities have managed to preserve the biodiversity of the cassava they have been growing for thousands of years. The research conducted by Doyle McKey's team thus centred on observing and modelling cropping practices in Amazonia.

Clonal and sexual propagation, not forgetting ants…

"We already had a hunch about these good cropping methods, as a result of studies by anthropologists", Doyle McKey says right away. What was needed were field observations. With his students, he thus spent time with cassava farmers in Guyana and French Guiana proving that the hunch was right. The Amerindians combine reproduction from cuttings (clonal propagation) and from seed (sexual propagation) in their cassava plots. They let plants obtained from seed grow among others obtained from cuttings, before choosing the most vigorous, which they then include in their clone reserve.

Ants play a far from negligible role too, spreading cassava seeds through the soil. This applies to both wild populations of parent plants and the Amerinidian cassava fields. "A seed bank develops a few centimetres below the soil surface and remains dormant during the fallow period," says Doyle McKey, "after slash-and-burn, the seeds from the previous crop cycle germinate and a new genotype may be added to the clone reserve".

In Africa and Vanuatu

This mixed cassava reproduction system led researchers from CIRAD and the CNRS along various lines of study: ethnobotany and ecology in the field, followed by genetics to characterize the existing diversity and understand its dynamics. Research is now under way in Africa to compare the Amerinidian results with those obtained on different soils and with other cropping practices. Have African cassava growers developed similar practices of incorporating the results of sexual reproduction?

Doyle McKey is due to launch a research project on cassava in Vanuatu in July 2007, in conjunction with Vincent Lebot, who knows the country and its plant diversity well. Again, the aim will be to study the know-how held by farmers, who have a long tradition of growing other clonally propagated plants such as taro and yam. The scientists involved hope to find clues to how to maintain biodiversity in areas in which clonally propagated crops have been introduced. As Doyle McKey concludes, "it is up to us to find the synergy between our various observations and develop the clonally propagated crop reproduction method".

Doyle McKey teaches at the University of Montpellier II and works with the CEFE (Centre d’écologie fonctionnelle et évolutive) at the CNRS and with the CIRAD "Management of Genetic Resources and Social Dynamics" Research Unit.

Vincent Lebot is a researcher with the CIRAD "Genetic Improvement of Vegetatively Propagated Crops" Research Unit.

Jean-Louis Noyer is a researcher with the "Polymorphisms of Interest in Agriculture" Joint Research Unit (UMR PIA)

Helen Burford | alfa
Further information:
http://www.cirad.fr/en/presse/communique.php?id=240

More articles from Agricultural and Forestry Science:

nachricht Climate change, population growth may lead to open ocean aquaculture
05.10.2017 | Oregon State University

nachricht New machine evaluates soybean at harvest for quality
04.10.2017 | University of Illinois College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences

All articles from Agricultural and Forestry Science >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Neutron star merger directly observed for the first time

University of Maryland researchers contribute to historic detection of gravitational waves and light created by event

On August 17, 2017, at 12:41:04 UTC, scientists made the first direct observation of a merger between two neutron stars--the dense, collapsed cores that remain...

Im Focus: Breaking: the first light from two neutron stars merging

Seven new papers describe the first-ever detection of light from a gravitational wave source. The event, caused by two neutron stars colliding and merging together, was dubbed GW170817 because it sent ripples through space-time that reached Earth on 2017 August 17. Around the world, hundreds of excited astronomers mobilized quickly and were able to observe the event using numerous telescopes, providing a wealth of new data.

Previous detections of gravitational waves have all involved the merger of two black holes, a feat that won the 2017 Nobel Prize in Physics earlier this month....

Im Focus: Smart sensors for efficient processes

Material defects in end products can quickly result in failures in many areas of industry, and have a massive impact on the safe use of their products. This is why, in the field of quality assurance, intelligent, nondestructive sensor systems play a key role. They allow testing components and parts in a rapid and cost-efficient manner without destroying the actual product or changing its surface. Experts from the Fraunhofer IZFP in Saarbrücken will be presenting two exhibits at the Blechexpo in Stuttgart from 7–10 November 2017 that allow fast, reliable, and automated characterization of materials and detection of defects (Hall 5, Booth 5306).

When quality testing uses time-consuming destructive test methods, it can result in enormous costs due to damaging or destroying the products. And given that...

Im Focus: Cold molecules on collision course

Using a new cooling technique MPQ scientists succeed at observing collisions in a dense beam of cold and slow dipolar molecules.

How do chemical reactions proceed at extremely low temperatures? The answer requires the investigation of molecular samples that are cold, dense, and slow at...

Im Focus: Shrinking the proton again!

Scientists from the Max Planck Institute of Quantum Optics, using high precision laser spectroscopy of atomic hydrogen, confirm the surprisingly small value of the proton radius determined from muonic hydrogen.

It was one of the breakthroughs of the year 2010: Laser spectroscopy of muonic hydrogen resulted in a value for the proton charge radius that was significantly...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

ASEAN Member States discuss the future role of renewable energy

17.10.2017 | Event News

World Health Summit 2017: International experts set the course for the future of Global Health

10.10.2017 | Event News

Climate Engineering Conference 2017 Opens in Berlin

10.10.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Terahertz spectroscopy goes nano

20.10.2017 | Information Technology

Strange but true: Turning a material upside down can sometimes make it softer

20.10.2017 | Materials Sciences

NRL clarifies valley polarization for electronic and optoelectronic technologies

20.10.2017 | Interdisciplinary Research

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>