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WORLD HUNGER

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Bianca
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« Reply #30 on: July 27, 2009, 11:41:05 am »










                  DNA Of Ancient Lost Barley Could Help Modern Crops Cope With Water Stress






ScienceDaily
(July 24, 2009)

Researchers at the University of Warwick have recovered significant DNA information from a lost form of ancient barley that triumphed for over 3000 years seeing off: 5 changes in civilisation, water shortages and a much more popular form of barley that produces more grains. This discovery offers a real insight into the couture of ancient farming and could assist the development of new varieties of crops to face today's climate change challenges.

The researchers, led by Dr Robin Allaby from the University of Warwick's plant research arm Warwick HRI, examined Archaeobotanical remains of ancient barley at Qasr Ibrim in Egypt's Upper Nile. This is a site that was occupied for over 3000 years by 5 successive cultures: Napatan, Roman, Meoitic, Christian and Islamic.

The first surprise for the researchers was that throughout that period every culture seemed to be growing a two rowed form of barley. While natural wild barley tends to be two rowed most farmers prefer to grow a much higher yield 6 row version which produces up to 3 times as many grains. That 6 row version has grown for over 8000 years and that was certainly grown in the lower Nile over the same period as Qasr Ibrim was occupied. It was thought that despite the fact that the rest of Egypt used 6 row barley that the farmers of Qasr Ibrim were perhaps deliberately choosing to import 2 rowed barley but the researchers could not understand why that would be so.

The plant scientists were pleased to find that the very dry conditions at Qasr Ibrim meant that they were able to extract a great deal of DNA information from barley samples from the site that dated back 2900 years. This was far better than would normally be expected from barley samples of that age. This led to the researchers to a second and much bigger surprise. They found that the DNA evidence showed that the two rowed barley at the site wasn't the normal wild two eared barley but a mutation of the more normally cultivated six rowed barley that had changed into a two ear form that had continued to be cultivated for around three millennia.

Dr Robin Allaby said: "The consistency of the two-row phenotype throughout all the strata spanning three millennia indicates that the reason for the reappearance of the two row form is more likely to be genetic, not environmental. Consequently, the two-row condition has probably resulted from a gain of a function mutation at another point in the plants DNA that has also reasserted the two-row condition from a six-row ancestor"

"There may have been a natural selection pressure that strongly favoured the two-row condition. One such possible cause we are currently investigating is water stress. Qasr Ibrim is located in the upper Nile which is very arid relative to the lower Nile where six-row remains are found, and studies have shown that two-row can survive water stress better than six-row"

He concluded that: "This finding has two important implications. Such strong selection pressure is likely to have affected many genes in terms of adaptation. Archaeogenetic study of the DNA of such previously lost ancient crops could confirm the nature of the selection pressure and be very valuable in the development of new varieties of crops to help with today's climate change challenges. Secondly this crop's rediscovery adds to our respect for the methods and thinking of ancient farmers. These ancient cultures utilized crops best suited to their environmental situation for centuries, rather than the much more popular six rowed barley they used a successful low grain number yield crop which could cope far better with water stress."


--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Journal reference:

1.Dr Robin Allaby, Sarah A. Palmer, Jonathan D. Moore, Alan J. Clapham and Pamela Rose. Archaeogenetic Evidence of Ancient Nubian Barley Evolution from Six to Two-Row Indicates Local Adaptation. PLoS One, (in press)
Adapted from materials provided by University of Warwick.
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 MLA University of Warwick (2009, July 24). DNA Of Ancient Lost Barley Could Help Modern Crops Cope With Water Stress. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 27, 2009, from



 http://www.sciencedaily.com /releases/2009/07/090721091822.htm
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Bianca
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« Reply #31 on: August 13, 2009, 08:20:16 am »










                                                'Trees of life' are vital food source 







BBC NEWS
Miranda Spitteler 
Aug. 1, 2009

The "famine food" of trees can keep drought-hit communities alive when all other food crops fail, says Miranda Spitteler. In this week's Green Room, she argues that policy makers need to recognise the important role trees play in providing emergency food aid.


 
 Communities living in countries most affected by food shortages have long known about the key role that trees can play in reducing the need for conventional aid
 
Food insecurity is a defining characteristic of life for many of the world's poorest people, exacerbated now by climate change and the rise in food prices.

Emergency food aid has been the staple of international responses to crises, such as drought and famine for decades.

However, it is much better that the emergency is addressed before it happens.

Farmer Arzouma Thiombiano from eastern Burkina Faso recalls how trees saved lives in the mid 1980s.

"Over 20 years ago, a big famine came but people escaped starvation by eating baobabs leaves and fruit," he says.

Communities living in countries most affected by food shortages have long known about the key role that trees can play in reducing the need for conventional aid.

Recognition of this by the West, and practical support for a localised tree-based solution is urgently needed.
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Bianca
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« Reply #32 on: August 13, 2009, 08:22:32 am »










Food for through

Widespread droughts across Africa have devastated crops this year. According to the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), 30 countries around the world are in crisis and require help from overseas.

 
Fruits, leaves, wood and bark provide the vital resources for rural life

Trees: More than just carbon sinks


 
The effects of climate change are making droughts more of a norm than an exception. This is a pattern that places some of the most vulnerable communities in an increasingly precarious position when it comes to meeting basic food needs.

In Burkina Faso in West Africa, malnutrition affects nearly 40% of the rural poor. Climate change is further impacting on already fragile agricultural lands, and high food costs are affecting people's health.

By the time shortages and hunger in countries like Burkina Faso reach "emergency" levels and warrant aid; families, communities, agricultural practices and lands will have suffered greatly.

The G8 summit held in Italy at the beginning of July pledged $20 billion to support indigenous food production to alleviate the need for such emergency food aid.

What is missing from this pledge is any mention of the key role that trees can play.

"Conventional" crops are often not native and require expensive inputs, significant irrigation and land preparation in order to produce a successful harvest.

 
Food from trees can provide vital nutrition when other food crops fail 
This means that they are more vulnerable to droughts. For smallholder farmers in Africa's drylands, a failed harvest can mean months of malnutrition and hardship.

Trees, on the other hand, often survive when other crops fail. Commonly seen by the West as "famine foods", tree foods already form a significant part of daily diets across rural Africa.

Trees provide fruits, nuts, seeds, leaves, flowers, sepals, even sap, which can all be used as food.

Take Moringa oleifera - its leaves have more beta-carotene than carrots, more protein than peas, more vitamin C than oranges, more calcium than milk, more potassium than bananas and more iron than spinach.

Data shows that nursing mothers produce more milk when they add Moringa leaves to their diet.

The leaves can be dried and eaten during the hungry period, and animal fodder from trees is also vital in producing milk and meat.

This existing localised "emergency relief", is what the G8 funding must seek to strengthen.
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Bianca
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« Reply #33 on: August 13, 2009, 08:24:06 am »










Self-help



The fight against hunger - especially in drought-hit times - must target those at the epicentre of world poverty - smallholder farmers in rural Africa.

 
 It is time for the value of trees to be recognised at all levels internationally
 
They need support to adopt agro-forestry techniques, which boost soil fertility and provide tree food crops to supplement nutrition. They need the right environment to invest in their land, the ability to share information, and modest support at grass roots level.

Training and support can help villagers earn money from things that grow on trees.

This income can give them food-purchasing power when crops fail, and access to vital services, such as healthcare and education.

This approach can increase self sufficiency for both rural communities and national economies. It can increase environmental security, diversify livelihood options and reduce the vulnerability of poor households to climate change and external shocks.

It can bring real, sustainable long-term returns.

In Dongo, a village in Burkina Faso, Tree Aid's Village Tree Enterprise project aims to help villagers generate income from tree products. All the participants are women.

One of their husbands explained: "During the last drought period, when my granary was empty, my wife's income contributed more than 50% of the household's income."

Projects like these provide communities with the skills and support to manage their trees. They enable people like the group in Dongo to improve their own resilience to drought, crop failure, and higher food prices.

It is time for the value of trees to be recognised at all levels internationally.

Groups like the G8 must make a commitment to developing the enormous potential of agro-forestry. In so doing they present a joined up approach to resolving two of the key issues facing the world today.

They will simultaneously alleviate poverty and food insecurity for people who need it most, while tackling the impact of climate change by encouraging the protection and planting of trees.
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