Science Enabled by Specimen Data

Ramirez-Villegas, J., Khoury, C. K., Achicanoy, H. A., Diaz, M. V., Mendez, A. C., Sosa, C. C., Kehel, Z., Guarino, L., Abberton, M., Aunario, J., Awar, B. A., Alarcon, J. C., Amri, A., Anglin, N. L., Azevedo, V., Aziz, K., Capilit, G. L., Chavez, O., Chebotarov, D., … Zavala, C. (2022). State of ex situ conservation of landrace groups of 25 major crops. Nature Plants. https://doi.org/10.1038/s41477-022-01144-8 https://doi.org/10.1038/s41477-022-01144-8

Crop landraces have unique local agroecological and societal functions and offer important genetic resources for plant breeding. Recognition of the value of landrace diversity and concern about its erosion on farms have led to sustained efforts to establish ex situ collections worldwide. The degree to which these efforts have succeeded in conserving landraces has not been comprehensively assessed. Here we modelled the potential distributions of eco-geographically distinguishable groups of landraces of 25 cereal, pulse and starchy root/tuber/fruit crops within their geographic regions of diversity. We then analysed the extent to which these landrace groups are represented in genebank collections, using geographic and ecological coverage metrics as a proxy for genetic diversity. We find that ex situ conservation of landrace groups is currently moderately comprehensive on average, with substantial variation among crops; a mean of 63% ± 12.6% of distributions is currently represented in genebanks. Breadfruit, bananas and plantains, lentils, common beans, chickpeas, barley and bread wheat landrace groups are among the most fully represented, whereas the largest conservation gaps persist for pearl millet, yams, finger millet, groundnut, potatoes and peas. Geographic regions prioritized for further collection of landrace groups for ex situ conservation include South Asia, the Mediterranean and West Asia, Mesoamerica, sub-Saharan Africa, the Andean mountains of South America and Central to East Asia. With further progress to fill these gaps, a high degree of representation of landrace group diversity in genebanks is feasible globally, thus fulfilling international targets for their ex situ conservation. By analysing the state of representation of traditional varieties of 25 major crops in ex situ repositories, this study demonstrates conservation progress made over more than a half-century and identifies the gaps remaining to be filled.

Sarker, U., Lin, Y.-P., Oba, S., Yoshioka, Y., & Hoshikawa, K. (2022). Prospects and potentials of underutilized leafy Amaranths as vegetable use for health-promotion. Plant Physiology and Biochemistry. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.plaphy.2022.04.011 https://doi.org/10.1016/j.plaphy.2022.04.011

Climate change causes environmental variation worldwide, which is one of the most serious threats to global food security. In addition, more than 2 billion people in the world are reported to suffer from serious malnutrition, referred to as ‘hidden hunger.’ Dependence on only a few crops could lead to the loss of genetic diversity and high fragility of crop breeding in systems adapting to global scale climate change. The exploitation of underutilized species and genetic resources, referred to as orphan crops, could be a useful approach for resolving the issue of adaptability to environmental alteration, biodiversity preservation, and improvement of nutrient quality and quantity to ensure food security. Moreover, the use of these alternative crops will help to increase the human health benefits and the income of farmers in developing countries. In this review, we highlight the potential of orphan crops, especially amaranths, for use as vegetables and health-promoting nutritional components. This review highlights promising diversified sources of amaranth germplasms, their tolerance to abiotic stresses, and their nutritional, phytochemical, and antioxidant values for vegetable purposes. Betalains (betacyanins and betaxanthins), unique antioxidant components in amaranth vegetables, are also highlighted regarding their chemodiversity across amaranth germplasms and their stability and degradation. In addition, we discuss the physiological functions, antioxidant, antilipidemic, anticancer, and antimicrobial activities, as well as the biosynthesis pathway, molecular, biochemical, genetics, and genomic mechanisms of betalains in detail.

Gutierrez-Larruscain, D., Krüger, M., Abeyawardana, O. A. J., Belz, C., Dobrev, P. I., Vaňková, R., Eliášová, K., Vondráková, Z., Juříček, M., & Štorchová, H. (2022). The high concentrations of abscisic, jasmonic, and salicylic acids produced under long days do not accelerate flowering in Chenopodium ficifolium 459. Plant Science, 320, 111279. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.plantsci.2022.111279 https://doi.org/10.1016/j.plantsci.2022.111279

The survival and adaptation of angiosperms depends on the proper timing of flowering. The weedy species Chenopodium ficifolium serves as a useful diploid model for comparing the transition to flowering with the important tetraploid crop Chenopodium quinoa due to the close phylogenetic relationship. The detailed transcriptomic and hormonomic study of the floral induction was performed in the short-day accession C. ficifolium 459. The plants grew more rapidly under long days but flowered later than under short days. The high levels of abscisic, jasmonic, and salicylic acids at long days were accompanied by the elevated expression of the genes responding to oxidative stress. The increased concentrations of stress-related phytohormones neither inhibited the plant growth nor accelerated flowering in C. ficifolium 459 at long photoperiods. Enhanced content of cytokinins and the stimulation of cytokinin and gibberellic acid signaling pathways under short days may indicate the possible participation of these phytohormones in floral initiation. The accumulation of auxin metabolites suggests the presence of a dynamic regulatory network in C. ficifolium 459.

Xue, T., Gadagkar, S. R., Albright, T. P., Yang, X., Li, J., Xia, C., … Yu, S. (2021). Prioritizing conservation of biodiversity in an alpine region: Distribution pattern and conservation status of seed plants in the Qinghai-Tibetan Plateau. Global Ecology and Conservation, 32, e01885. doi:10.1016/j.gecco.2021.e01885 https://doi.org/10.1016/j.gecco.2021.e01885

The Qinghai-Tibetan Plateau (QTP) harbors abundant and diverse plant life owing to its high habitat heterogeneity. However, the distribution pattern of biodiversity hotspots and their conservation status remain unclear. Based on 148,283 high-resolution occurrence coordinates of 13,450 seed plants, w…

Wang, C.-J., & Wan, J.-Z. (2021). Functional trait perspective on suitable habitat distribution of invasive plant species at a global scale. Perspectives in Ecology and Conservation. doi:10.1016/j.pecon.2021.07.002 https://doi.org/10.1016/j.pecon.2021.07.002

Plant invasion has been proved to threaten biodiversity conservation and ecosystem maintenance at a global scale. It is a challenge to project suitable habitat distributions of invasive plant species (IPS) for invasion risk assessment at large spatial scales. Interaction outcomes between native and …

Rhodes, A. C., Plowes, R. M., Goolsby, J. A., Gaskin, J. F., Musyoka, B., Calatayud, P.-A., … Gilbert, L. E. (2021). The dilemma of Guinea grass (Megathyrsus maximus): a valued pasture grass and a highly invasive species. Biological Invasions. doi:10.1007/s10530-021-02607-3 https://doi.org/10.1007/s10530-021-02607-3

On a global scale, invasive grasses threaten biodiversity and ecosystem function. Nevertheless, the importation of forage grasses is a significant economic force driven by globalization. Pastureland and rangeland are of critical economic and ecological importance, but novel grass species may lead to…

De Oliveira, M. H. V., Torke, B. M., & Almeida, T. E. (2021). An inventory of the ferns and lycophytes of the Lower Tapajós River Basin in the Brazilian Amazon reveals collecting biases, sampling gaps, and previously undocumented diversity. Brittonia. doi:10.1007/s12228-021-09668-7 https://doi.org/10.1007/s12228-021-09668-7

Ferns and lycophytes are an excellent group for conservation and species distribution studies because they are closely related to environmental changes. In this study, we analyzed collection gaps, sampling biases, richness distribution, and the species conservation effectiveness of protected areas i…

Saldaña‐López, A., Vilà, M., Lloret, F., Manuel Herrera, J., & González‐Moreno, P. (2021). Assembly of species’ climatic niches of coastal communities does not shift after invasion. Journal of Vegetation Science, 32(2). doi:10.1111/jvs.12989 https://doi.org/10.1111/jvs.12989

Question: Do invasions by invasive plant species with contrasting trait profiles (Arctotheca calendula, Carpobrotus spp., Conyza bonariensis, and Opuntia dillenii) change the climatic niche of coastal plant communities? Location: Atlantic coastal habitats in Huelva (Spain). Methods: We identifi…

Lake, T. A., Briscoe Runquist, R. D., & Moeller, D. A. (2020). Predicting range expansion of invasive species: Pitfalls and best practices for obtaining biologically realistic projections. Diversity and Distributions, 26(12), 1767–1779. doi:10.1111/ddi.13161 https://doi.org/10.1111/ddi.13161

Aim: Species distribution models (SDMs) are widely used to forecast potential range expansion of invasive species. However, invasive species occurrence datasets often have spatial biases that may violate key SDM assumptions. In this study, we examined alternative methods of spatial bias correction a…

Brightly, W. H., Hartley, S. E., Osborne, C. P., Simpson, K. J., & Strömberg, C. A. E. (2020). High silicon concentrations in grasses are linked to environmental conditions and not associated with C 4 photosynthesis. Global Change Biology. doi:10.1111/gcb.15343 https://doi.org/10.1111/gcb.15343

The uptake and deposition of silicon (Si) as silica phytoliths is common among land plants and is associated with a variety of functions. Among these, herbivore defense has received significant attention, particularly with regards to grasses and grasslands. Grasses are well known for their high sili…