WIKIMEDIA, RUSLAN V. ALBITSKY
Selections from The Scientist’s reading list:
Looking across biodiversity, herbarium, and gene-bank databases, scientists at the International Center for Tropical Agriculture in Colombia and colleagues found that many agriculturally important species are missing. “A systematic effort is needed to improve the conservation and availability of crop wild relatives for use in plant breeding,” the researchers wrote in Nature Plants this week (March 21). Axel Diederichsen of the Plant Gene Resources of Canada told Science that funding and infrastructure issues may be in part to blame. “Do we have the capacity to conserve, much less utilize, all this diversity?” he asked.
The National Science Foundation is suspending a program that provides funding to maintain biological research collections, Nature reported this week (March 21). “The agency will honour current grants, but it is not accepting new proposals.”
- Robert Grass of ETH Zurich and colleagues have devised a method to store written information—encoded in DNA—for hundreds of years in synthetic fossils. DNA is “a really stable material which can endure nature or the environment for a very long time,” Grass told Reuters this week (March 22). However, there is still much work to be done, Reuters reported: “viable DNA data storage will need significant investment to become a reality.”