Vegetation of planet Earth: Researchers publish unique database as open access

It’s a treasure trove of data: The global geodatabase of vegetation plots “sPlotOpen” is now freely accessible. It contains data on vegetation from 114 countries and from all climate zones on Earth. The database was compiled by an international team of researchers led by Martin Luther University Halle-Wittenberg (MLU), the German Centre for Integrative Biodiversity Research (iDiv) and the French National Centre for Scientific Research (CNRS). Researchers around the world finally have a balanced, representative dataset of the Earth’s vegetation at their disposal, as the team reports in the journal Global Ecology & Biogeography.

Language extinction triggers the loss of unique medicinal knowledge | PNAS

Abstract:  The United Nations proclamation of 2022–2032 as the International Decade of Indigenous Languages aims to raise global awareness about their endangerment and importance for sustainable development. Indigenous languages contain the knowledge that communities have about their surrounding plants and the services they provide. The use of plants in medicine is a particularly relevant example of such ecosystem services. Here, we find that most medicinal knowledge is linguistically unique—i.e., known by a single language—and more strongly associated with threatened languages than with threatened plants. Each indigenous language is therefore a unique reservoir of medicinal knowledge—a Rosetta stone for unraveling and conserving nature’s contributions to people.

 

The Global Extinction of Languages Is Threatening a Vital Type of Human Knowledge

“As human languages are driven to extinction around the world, a verbal encyclopedia of medical knowledge is on the brink of being forgotten.

Among 12,495 medicinal uses for plants in indigenous communities, new research has found over 75 percent of those plants are each tied to just one local language. If these unique words trickle out of use, so too may the knowledge they contain….

Language extinction is a tragic phenomenon that’s been occurring worldwide, as languages spoken by precious few people are replaced by larger ones. Roughly one language ceases to be spoken every four months, and 3,054 languages are currently endangered around the world….

The vast majority of plant species in the study were found to have medical properties described in just one indigenous language, many of which are themselves endangered….

In North America, for instance, the authors found waning indigenous languages held 86 percent of all unique knowledge on plant medicine. In the northwest Amazon, on the other hand, 100 percent of medicinal plant knowledge is restricted to languages on the edge of extinction. …”

3 ways that preprints help researchers in agricultural and plant sciences – The CABI Blog

“The use of preprints (pre-peer reviewed versions of scholarly papers) has accelerated in the last few years with many researchers now sharing their latest work with the scientific community before or in parallel to publication with a journal. After a slower start compared to other research fields, adoption of preprints in the plant sciences and agriculture is growing well.

As part of this growing trend, CABI relaunched agriRxiv (pronounced agri-archive and previously known as AgriXiv) in 2020 as a platform for posting preprints. agriRxiv makes preprints across agriculture and allied sciences available to researchers and gives those who wish to share their papers online an opportunity to gain valuable feedback before submitting a final version to a journal and formal peer-review….”

Webinar ‘Preprints – Accelerating plant sciences and agriculture’

“The use of preprints has accelerated in the last few years with many researchers now sharing their latest work with the scientific community before or in parallel to publication with a journal. After a slower start compared to other research fields, adoption of preprints in the plant sciences and agriculture is growing well.

Why are researchers in plant and agricultural sciences posting preprints? What should you consider before you post a preprint? How does a preprint relate to a journal publication? In this webinar, we will discuss the outlook of preprints in plant sciences and agriculture, explore what can be learned from fields with a longer tradition of preprint use and hear from researchers who have successfully used preprints for the communication of their research.”

Inside An Effort To Put Millions Of Biological Specimens Online : Shots – Health News : NPR

“For scientists to pull out detailed information like that, however, they first have to know that a particular specimen even exists. In 2011, the National Science Foundation started handing out grants as part of a ten-year push to bring old-fashioned collections into the Internet age. One of the goals was to put specimen records online and into a searchable portal called iDigBio….

Now, as that program winds down, he and other experts are pondering what needs to happen over the next decade so that biological collections can continue to become more accessible. That’s why the NSF recently asked for some advice from an expert panel convened by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine.

One of its recommendations was simple: create a national registry of all collections, so experts know who’s got plants, microbes, or animals of interest.

The U.S. is thought to possess about 1,800 natural history collections, which is about a third of those that exist worldwide. In addition, the country has at least 2,800 “living stock” collections, such as microbe collections, which continually maintain living organisms for research….”

Access to biodiversity for food production: Reconciling open access digital sequence information with access and benefit sharing: Molecular Plant

“Over the last 40 years or so, a complex web of international legal agreements was developed that regulate the access, transfer, and use of plant genetic resources. These include the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), the Nagoya Protocol, and the International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources (Figure 1). In developing these legal regimes, policy makers struggled to balance a number of conflicting demands. These included ensuring that access providers share in the benefits that arise from the use of their genetic resources; that users who value-add to genetic resources can protect their innovations via intellectual property; and, at the same time, that scientists and breeders have ongoing access to genetic resources. While there are problems with the existing regimes, they have reached an uneasy compromise of sorts….”

 

 

Access to biodiversity for food production: Reconciling open assess digital sequence information with access and benefit sharing – ScienceDirect

“Over the last forty years or so, a complex web of international legal agreements were developed that regulate the access, transfer, and use of plant genetic resources. These include the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), the Nagoya Protocol, and the International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources (Figure 1). In developing these legal regimes, policy makers struggled to balance a number of conflicting demands. These included ensuring that access providers share in the benefits that arise from the use of their genetic resources; that users who value-add to genetic resources can protect their innovations via intellectual property; and, at the same time, that scientists and breeders have ongoing access to genetic resources. While there are problems with the existing regimes, they have reached an uneasy compromise of sorts. In recent years, dramatic changes in the life sciences have threatened to undermine this complex and fragile balance (Unamba et al., 2015). These changes have been facilitated by new genomic technologies such as gene editing and synthetic biology (McDaniel and Weiss, 2005), by improved and cheaper sequencing technologies (Schaffer, 2007) which rapidly increased the availability of DNA sequence data, and advances in whole genome sequencing (Figure 1). Genomics is now a major source of data, rivalling big data disciplines like astronomy in the pace of data acquisition, storage, and analysis (Stephens et al., 2015). Open access international data repositories, such as GenBank, the DNA Databank of Japan, and European Molecular Biological Laboratory, that house a huge amount of DNA sequencerelated data (estimated at over 1.5 billion sequences) (WiLDSI , 2020) facilitate the sharing and use of digital sequence information (DSI) (Ad Hoc Technical Group on Digital Sequence Information 2015). The scientific value of public databases largely comes from the aggregation of data that allows scientists to identify patterns across the stored sequences (WiLDSI, 2020)….”

Plant Communications: An Open Access Venue for Communicating Diverse Plant Science Discoveries – ScienceDirect

“With the coming of the new year 2020, we are pleased to invite you to join us in celebrating the birth of a new plant science journal, Plant Communications, by reading this editorial. Together with Cell Press, a well-known life science publisher, we are launching Plant Communications as an open access journal sister to Molecular Plant, one of the leading plant science journals, which has published cutting-edge research for 12 years along with continuously improved services to the global plant science community….”

PBJ ranks higher, enhances diversity and offers free global access – Daniell – 2021 – Plant Biotechnology Journal – Wiley Online Library

“Since I started as the Editor?in?Chief in 2012, submission of manuscripts has almost tripled, despite transition to an open access journal a few years ago. Despite COVID?19, the number of submissions to PBJ [Plant Biotechnology Journal] continued to increase in 2020….”

CorkOakDB—The Cork Oak Genome Database Portal | Database | Oxford Academic

Abstract:  Quercus suber (cork oak) is an evergreen tree native to the Mediterranean basin, which plays a key role in the ecology and economy of this area. Over the last decades, this species has gone through an observable decline, mostly due to environmental factors. Deciphering the mechanisms of cork oak’s response to the environment and getting a deep insight into its biology are crucial to counteract biotic and abiotic stresses compromising the stability of a unique ecosystem. In the light of these setbacks, the publication of the genome in 2018 was a major step towards understanding the genetic make-up of this species. In an effort to integrate this information in a comprehensive, accessible and intuitive format, we have developed The Cork Oak Genome Database Portal (CorkOakDB). The CorkOakDB is supported by the BioData.pt e-infrastructure, the Portuguese ELIXIR node for biological data. The portal gives public access to search and explore the curated genomic and transcriptomic data on this species. Moreover, CorkOakDB provides a user-friendly interface and functional tools to help the research community take advantage of the increased accessibility to genomic information. A study case is provided to highlight the functionalities of the portal. CorkOakDB guarantees the update, curation and data collection, aiming to collect data besides the genetic/genomic information, in order to become the main repository in cork oak research.

 

Iterative books: Posthumous publishing in eighteenth-century botany – Bettina Dietz, 2020

Abstract:  The growing number of known plants, and the need repeatedly to correct their names and their taxonomic attributions, demanded strategies for combining the static nature of a printed book with the fluctuating nature of the information it contained. From the second half of the seventeenth century botanists increasingly relied on publishing multiple updated editions of a book instead of attempting to correct, polish, and thus delay the appearance of a manuscript until, in the author’s opinion, it was finished. Provisional by nature, iterative books offered a solution. They were transient, open-ended and open to intervention, whether by one or multiple authors. Taking as an example the posthumous publication of orphaned material and manuscripts, a widespread phenomenon in eighteenth-century botany, this essay will focus on the sequence of iterative books that were published during the first half of the eighteenth century, based on the herbaria and papers left behind by the German botanist Paul Hermann (1646–95).

 

LCVP, The Leipzig catalogue of vascular plants, a new taxonomic reference list for all known vascular plants | Scientific Data

Abstract:  The lack of comprehensive and standardized taxonomic reference information is an impediment for robust plant research, e.g. in systematics, biogeography or macroecology. Here we provide an updated and much improved reference list of 1,315,562 scientific names for all described vascular plant species globally. The Leipzig Catalogue of Vascular Plants (LCVP; version 1.0.3) contains 351,180 accepted species names (plus 6,160 natural hybrids), within 13,460 genera, 564 families and 84 orders. The LCVP a) contains more information on the taxonomic status of global plant names than any other similar resource, and b) significantly improves the reliability of our knowledge by e.g. resolving the taxonomic status of ~181,000 names compared to The Plant List, the up to date most commonly used plant name resource. We used ~4,500 publications, existing relevant databases and available studies on molecular phylogenetics to construct a robust reference backbone. For easy access and integration into automated data processing pipelines, we provide an ‘R’-package (lcvplants) with the LCVP.