The small but mighty chickpea packs a dietary and environmental punch. They are an important source of nutrition, especially protein, for billions of people across the world. Additionally, bacteria that live in root nodules of chickpea plants pull in atmospheric nitrogen, increasing soil productivity.
But breeding new varieties of chickpeas with desirable traits – such as increased resistance to diseases and pests – is difficult. In fact, it is “tedious and inefficient,” says Thomas Stefaniak, a researcher at North Dakota State University (USA).
The saga of cocoa (Theobroma cacao) in southern Bahia is part of Brazil’s economic and cultural history. Brazil was once the world’s second-largest cocoa producer and now ranks sixth. After more than 20 years of exile from the global market, cocoa growers were able to resume exports of the commodity only in 2015.
The culprit behind the decline of Bahian cocoa was the fungus Moniliophthora perniciosa, which causes witch’s broom. This disease appeared in the Ilhéus-Itabuna area in 1989 and attacked the shoots, flowers and pods of cocoa trees.
New research from North Carolina State University (NC State; USA) delves into the movement and evolution of the pathogen that caused the Irish potato famine in the 1840s, which set down roots in the United States before attacking Europe.