Tag Archives: agriculture

Best thing since sliced bread

In case you hadn’t gathered from all of the posts about the Rothamsted wheat trials, I have a bit of a soft spot for wheat. Wheat isn’t just globally important (as one of the Big Three staples, providing around 20% of our calories and a decent amount of protein for a cereal), it’s also really interesting. It has three genomes, making it incredibly genetically diverse, and therefore able to grow in a really wide variety of climates. That also means that it can undergo some nifty genetic changes: if one copy of a gene starts to evolve in a potentially-cool-but-potentially-hazardous way, there’s usually another ‘back up’ copy, allowing more divergent evolution than in a diploid like rice.

Map of wheat production (average percentage of land used for its production times average yield in each grid cell) across the world compiled by the University of Minnesota Institute on the Environment with data from: Monfreda, C., N. Ramankutty, and J.A. Foley. 2008. Farming the planet: 2. Geographic distribution of crop areas, yields, physiological types, and net primary production in the year 2000. Global Biogeochemical Cycles 22: GB1022

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Clock is ticking for better stomatal control

One of the things that I find really frustrating about academia (and a significant part of why I enjoy teaching so much) is how narrow your focus has to become. I have lots of biological interests: I find stress biology incredibly interesting. I am fascinated by epidemiology. I did an internship looking at sexual systems in plants. As a scientific researcher though, most of that gets shut down. If there isn’t a viable possibility for collaboration then you may as well forget it. Time spent reading about neurology or viral resistance is apparently time wasted for me.

Thankfully, I have a blog, and today – having given blood this morning – I am in no shape for lab work. If I were sensible I would be reading or writing or being otherwise productive. But, using the excuse that I would probably accidentally delete my entire Methods section (give me some credit, I faceplanted the floor of the donation room twice) I am reading about other interesting science.

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