By dispersing seeds, bats generate essential ecosystem services

Picture copyright Enríquez-Acevedo et al.

When frugivorous bats forage for fruits in forests or agricultural lands, they serve the important ecological function of seed dispersal. In the Colombian Andean region, researchers Enríquez-Acevedo et al. studied how seed dispersal by fruit bats can generate important ecosystem services for agroecosystems, mixed-crops being more impacted than extensive livestock agroecosystems, and eventually for society.

‘On-farm’ seed priming increases crop performance

Picture copyright H. Wainwright and A. Rashid

There is an urgent need to render food production more sustainable in both economic and environmental terms. Scientists Carrillo-Reche et al. reviewed the potential of so-called ‘on-farm’ seed priming, a low-cost low-risk technology for agricultural intensification in developing countries. They concluded that on average crop yields from ‘on farm’ primed seeds were 21 % higher than conventionally sown seeds, suggesting that the technique can be adopted by resource-poor farmers.

Better understanding of farmer seed exchange for agrobiodiversity and food security

Farmer seed exchange is essential for food security because seed exchange maintains crop biodiversity and, in turn, biodiverse crops survive better climate changes and pest infection. However, actually we do not understand exactly how seed exchange networks induce crop diversity. A study by Pautasso explains why individual farmers do not cultivate all varieties present in a region or a village.


Resuscitating Jerusalem artichoke seeds

Jerusalem artichoke is good for health because this plant contains inulin, a dietary fiber that enhances the immune system in humans. However cultivating Jerusalem artichoke is actually difficult because freshly harvested seeds are dormant, meaning that seeds are ‘sleeping’. Seeds indeed need lengthy storage and complicated treatments to ‘wake up’ and grow.  Puttha et al. found that treating seeds under cold and wet conditions with gibberellic acid, a natural compound, waked up seeds rapidly.