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Sariel007 OP t1_iw7jngc wrote

>Scientists in Israel are creating a gene bank from the seeds of local wild crops, some that have survived for thousands of years since the birth of agriculture and that may help farmers deal with a harsher climate in the coming decades.

>In a eucalyptus grove nestled between an industrial zone and a new railroad under construction, botanist Alon Singer collected seeds from a number of plants recently spotted, including a variety of water mint, that will be frozen and stored at the Israel Plant Gene Bank at the Volcani Institute, the national agricultural R&D center.

>Singer is combing the country along with other scouts and foragers in search of varieties of wheat, barley and countless other wild crops so their genetic makeup can be saved and studied before they are lost to expanding deserts and urbanization as the climate warms.

>"The plants here are very unique. They are the ancestors of many of the cultivated plants used today," he said.

>Resilient characteristics can be harnessed to genetically modify farmed crops so they better withstand drought or disease.

>Tens of thousands of types of seeds are stored in the gene bank. It may be smaller than some collections elsewhere in the world but the gene pool here is unique, coming from an area that was part of the Fertile Crescent region known as the birthplace of crop cultivation.

>"This is where agriculture started about 10,000 years ago," said Einav Mayzlish-Gati, director of the gene bank. "Species that were domesticated here are still in the wild adapting along the years to the changes in the environment."

>The research has already been paying off. For example, the institute has engineered a variety of wheat with an ultra-short lifecycle. It may not be able to compete today, but it could be a saving grace in a hotter climate with reduced growing seasons.


-Ch4s3- t1_iw7zhgj wrote

> They are the ancestors of many of the cultivated plants used today

They're really descendants of the ancestors of modern crops, wild cousins if you will.


beebo_bebop t1_iw9fgay wrote

& that’s still assuming no gene flow btwn wild & cultivated populations && that collected germplasm is actually wild rather than feralized


-Ch4s3- t1_iw9l4yi wrote

Which would be hard to determine


beebo_bebop t1_iw9qjkf wrote

difficult//tedious but not impossible. more recent ferals should be pretty easy to distinguish through population structure analysis so long as someone takes the time to genotype them and run the statistics.

figuring out that an accession was influenced by humans then escaped cultivation to continue as a feral for 8k years is more challenging but still possible, especially with wheat since we have genomic data from archaeological finds


-Ch4s3- t1_iw9thoa wrote

Yeah, tedious is what I was thinking.


BobbyDropTableUsers t1_iw7tkpo wrote

This is brilliant.


TheThrenodist t1_iw87irz wrote

Pretty obvious when you think about it


beebo_bebop t1_iw9frak wrote

obvious enough for it to be pretty common practice already for most major crops, at least in the Americas and Europe and China ..