By Ava Torre-Bueno.
Our life on Earth depends on many things. One of them is diversity in the genetics of the plants we rely on for food. Gregor Mendel, a Moravian monk and scientist, first discovered the laws of genetic inheritance by doing 29,000 experiments with peas. Science takes time! Learn about Mendel and his experimental garden here: youtube.com/watch?v=YxKFdQo10rE history.nih.gov/exhibits/nirenberg/hsl_mendel.htm
Here’s an infographic about the role of genetic diversity in agriculture: visual.ly/what-agricultural-biodiversity There are many articles and educational sites on the web about why genetic diversity is important. Most significant, “… when a population of an organism contains a large gene pool—that is, if the genetic blueprints of individuals in the population vary significantly—the group has a greater chance of surviving and flourishing than a population with limited genetic variability.” Learn why this, and a lower incidence of unfavorable inherited traits, makes genetic diversity important: garden.org/courseweb/course2/week2/page18.htm Here’s a more scholarly article on the same subject: nps.gov/plants/restore/pubs/restgene/1.htm Biodiversity International is helping small farmers to safeguard plant biodiversity: bioversityinternational.org/news/detail/incentives-to-conserve-agricultural-biodiversity-peru-at-the-forefront/ In our own gardens, biodiversity is more often defined as the number of different species of plants and animals, rather than the genetic diversity of our plants, which is the focus of this month’s presentation. Here are some articles on this more macro definition of biodiverse gardening: americanforests.org/magazine/article/backyard-biodiversity/ fs.fed.us/wildflowers/Native_Plant_Materials/Native_Gardening/index.shtml nwf.org/News-and-Magazines/National-Wildlife/Gardening/Archives/2006/Homegrown-Biodiversity.aspx