From the slash-and-burn cultivation of primitive tribes to the artificial intelligence of today’s society, the giant technological wheel crashed over. And the food crops that provide the light of hope for the continuation of our lives have also experienced the tortuous journey of genetic mutation and artificial domestication .
Domestication has created human civilization and enriched the diversity of species. However, under people’s unconscious ignorance, some seeds have gradually degenerated and disappeared on this planet. Once a seed disappears, it will never come back, which means the permanent loss of a precious genetic resource.
What is the process of seed domestication? How do we protect and develop the genetic resources behind this? Professor Lu Baorong has been engaged in the collection of genetic resources in Tibet for a long time, and has personally practiced a “seed” story:
“I believe in light, because light is hope. In the process of chasing hope, mankind opened the door to civilization, sowed the seeds of the future, and developed the society to a prosperous and powerful situation like today, in which the domestication of plants played a very important role. Important role.
The world is faced with the challenges of declining species diversity and rapid population growth. In the future, fierce competition in the world may be aimed at important genetic resources. We must rely on technology to firmly hold our jobs in our own hands. Only by ensuring our jobs, can we truly realize the great revival of the Chinese nation and enable the sustainable development of society. “
The process of plant domestication opened the door to human civilization
I believe in light, because light represents hope. Human beings and all life are chasing hope.
Then in such a chasing process, all beings must accomplish two things. First, they must survive; second, they must reproduce . If any life cannot survive or reproduce, then it will perish, and human beings are no exception.
As the saying goes, people regard food as their heaven. In fact, it is not only human beings who regard food as their heaven. All lives must eat and obtain energy. If there is no access to energy, then life cannot survive or continue.
In ancient times, in order to survive, human beings lived stubbornly and arduously, fighting with all large animals. At that time, human beings were very weak and they continued to multiply in such a cruel survival process. In fact, such a difficult survival process can still be seen in some primitive tribes in Africa .
Human beings continue to survive, hunt, and gather for one million years, three million years, or even longer. But one day, a miracle happened . About 10,000 years ago, all continents of the world spontaneously produced a new action.
At this time, mankind began the opening of the door to civilization, a very important milestone event in the middle, this event is called plant domestication .
What is plant domestication? In the simplest language, plant domestication is the process of turning wild plants into cultivated plants , it’s that simple.
But such a simple process took 10,000 years, and this process opened the door to human civilization. Because plants have been domesticated in different regions and at different times, they have also nurtured different civilizations.
For example, the Babylonian civilization is a civilization supported by wheat and barley, our Chinese civilization is a civilization supported by rice and millet, and the ancient Maya culture in Mexico is a civilization supported by corn.
Different foods have created different cultures and different civilizations. Without the process of domestication and opening, it would be impossible to produce human civilization.
In the process of human civilization, there are actually different regional cultures. Domestication not only creates the rice we eat, the rice we eat, and other crops we eat, but more importantly, it creates different cultures .
In China, rice belongs to Wuyue culture, millet belongs to Central Plains culture, and wheat and barley belong to Western Region culture. In fact, wheat was introduced to China through the Silk Road, so China is a diverse culture.
The process of plant domestication not only creates staple food for us, but also creates a variety of delicious things for us, including fruits, vegetables, nuts, and all kinds of food. condiment.
The process of plant domestication has opened a door to civilization . Therefore, plant domestication has enriched our daily lives and played a very important role.
Near Shanghai, there is a place called Hemudu . This place produces a very important crop, which is rice. Rice is a member of the grass family. In the rice genus, there are more than 20 kinds of wild rice in the rice genus.
But we in China are very lucky. Our ancestors chose a wild rice and cultivated it into our cultivated rice today. There are many varieties of cultivated rice. There should be more than 150,000 different varieties in the world. The resources are very rich.
The ancestor of rice is ordinary wild rice. The characteristic of wild plants is that when it matures, its seeds will fall into the soil . Why is this?
Because these seeds must reproduce themselves. If the seed does not fall off the branch, it cannot reproduce. It must be planted in the soil before it can take root, germinate, flower, and bear fruit. This is very important to the plant itself.
But this is not good for us humans, because all the seeds fall into the soil, and we can’t harvest it. It is very interesting that God is very caring for humans at this time. Among the millions of individuals or plants, one or two of them have genetic mutations, and they become such a plant that the seeds cannot fall.
And our ancestors also happened to collect them, take them back home and plant them at home. So slowly, such a wild species was domesticated into a domestic cultivated species .
Rice is a very important crop, and it is also a plant species that China has made a great contribution to the world.
The origin of rice is about 10,000 years. At this time, in the middle and lower reaches of the Yangtze River, there were ancestors who were working hard to cultivate wild rice, and the earliest wild rice did not have a few seeds. Later, it became us in the process of domestication. Such fruitful rice today.
Of course, rice not only provides us with the staple food, it also creates the rice culture.
We use rice to make a variety of delicacies, forming a unique Chinese food culture. The wine made from rice is well-known in the world, and we know that there are many wine brands. Moreover, rice straw can also be used to make a variety of handicrafts, and even works of art, so rice can fully express the cultural diversity.
In fact, there are many interesting stories in the process of domestication. These are different things before or after human beings are domesticated or cultivated, and after they are cultivated.
The top picture is an improved watermelon . Without improvement, the watermelon could not be so good, so big, and so sweet; the undomesticated thing in the middle on the left is a banana ; and the bottom thing is like a root. It’s our carrot .
There are also interesting things, such as the ancestor of Xiaomi is the dog’s tail grass . In the process of domestication, the size of such a small dog’s tail grass increased by more than 100 times. If we look at it three-dimensionally, it is huge. And very importantly, it used to have small seeds, like a shuttle; but now it has become larger and rounder, which is amazing.
This millet is one of the most important crops in our Chinese civilization. We often refer to “Jiangshan Sheji”. “Ji” is millet. It can be linked to Jiangshan Sheji. This shows that the people regard food as the heaven and food security is very important. .
And our corn, this variety of corn, how small its ancestors are. It’s like a little finger, thinner than the little finger, with six or seven, five or six seeds. But through the process of human domestication, it became a corn cob, which was as long as 1 to 2 feet; it also changed from a few seeds to hundreds of seeds at a time. There were too many interesting stories during the domestication.
In the process of domestication, we have also cultivated a variety of genetic diversity, which we also call genetic resources. Genetic resources can not only be used as an important resource for cultivating varieties, but more importantly, they can also enhance the value of our products.
Our most common corn, that is, ordinary corn, its price is about 5 yuan per catty; there is another variety-purple corn, because it has a higher nutritional value, it can be sold for 10 yuan per catty.
And our farmers are very clever. They hybridize purple and white corn into colorful corn . The variety of corn rose to 25 yuan a catty. Therefore, genetic resources can bring us value enhancement.
And our genetic resources were once forgotten. It was thought that there was no tangible value, so we didn’t care about it too much. But in fact, some genetic resources have been lost, and once they are lost, they will remain forever. Won’t come back again. Therefore, we should be aware of the importance of genetic resources.
At the Central Economic Work Conference in December last year, the seed industry and cultivated varieties were raised as major topics. Moreover, genetic resources are mentioned in the middle. In our future life and in the process of our future prosperity, genetic resources play a very important role.
How important are genetic resources?
This reminds me of my colleague, Professor Zhong Yang, a model of the times and one of the 100 important heroes and models . He once said a very famous sentence: A gene can bring hope to the country, and a seed can benefit thousands of people.
The genetic resources we just mentioned can be summed up in a simple sentence. Genetic resources are the cutest and most precious qualities and traits contained in seeds. They are particularly important as a breeding material.
Therefore, we must tap the value of genetic resources, cultivate them again, and put them in the breeding process. As the saying goes, it is difficult for a clever woman to cook without rice. She is a clever woman no matter how capable she is. Without condiments, raw materials and rice, she cannot make good meals.
Similarly, no matter how powerful a breeder is, without genetic resources, he cannot breed new varieties. Therefore, we must carry forward Zhong Yang’s seed spirit and explore the mysteries of science.
Let me tell you two stories about genes. The first story is the gene of the green revolution . We often say that one gene can bring about a revolution. So if it is that way, we will know by looking at the following story.
In the early and mid-1960s of the last century, after the end of World War II, the population was growing very fast, and the grain growth encountered a bottleneck. If food growth cannot keep up with population growth, there will be widespread famine.
At this time, scientists—especially a breeder represented by Norman Borlaug, a breeder from the Mexican Wheat and Corn Improvement Center—think of a way.
The crops in the past were very tall, but the seeds that could be collected were very few, only a small amount. So they gave these crop scientists introduced a “dwarf base for” , what put the plants into a dwarf.
What are the benefits of turning crops into dwarfs? Because if the crop is too tall, it will fall as soon as the wind blows, so dwarf plants can resist lodging. Add some fertilizer nutrients to it, and it will grow very well, and it will be particularly strong.
So this is the first benefit: the crop’s lodging resistance has been enhanced .
The second benefit can also increase its harvest index . What is the harvest index? This means that when plants have more seeds, the proportion of grasses is very small.
Due to the effect of such a small gene, the variety was improved . Including rice, wheat and corn. And it has saved the food problem of hundreds of millions of people in the world. Because of such an important contribution, Norman Borlaug won the Nobel Peace Prize, which caused a sensation in the world’s green revolution.
There is another story very close to us, the famous hybrid rice . When it comes to hybrid rice, everyone must think of Yuan Longping. What did Yuan Longping and his team actually do at that time?
They just transferred a gene for male sterility from wild rice to cultivated rice, making cultivated rice male sterile . As a result, three lines of sterile line, restorer line, and maintainer line were formed. Thus, a large-scale seed production method of hybrid rice with heterosis was created .
One gene can cause a revolution. There are three very important genes, all of which have affected the progress of our human civilization.
The first gene is called the shattering gene . If it is a wild species, if it is not turned into non-shedding, then we humans may still be in the stage of collecting wild fruits and seeds. Therefore, the advantage of domesticating the shattering gene is to bring us a new world, which opens the door to civilization.
Of course, the second one is the gene of the green revolution. I have already told this story just now. There is also the revolution in China’s hybrid rice (male sterility gene) , so we can see how important genetic resources are, and they are very important in the entire process of human survival, development, and civilization.
Lock the key genetic resource: highland barley
Among the many food crops, there is one crop that I particularly like, then it is highland barley .
Professor Zhong Yang knew how important barley is, so he also conducted research on barley during his aid to Tibet. After his unfortunate death, we took over his task. Now Fudan University, together with Tibet University and the Tibet Academy of Agriculture and Animal Husbandry, are jointly studying highland barley and tapping its resources to benefit mankind.
Highland barley is a sacred food on the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau . We can often hear stories about highland barley wine, butter tea, and tsampa cakes. These are the most important food crops on the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau, and they are also strategically important crops. These crops are very sacred in the hearts of the Tibetan people.
Here is a picture showing the Zanba Festival on the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau . Our tsampa festival is no less inferior than the western carnival. At the Tsampa Festival, the farmers were so happy that they would apply a little bit of tsampa powder on everyone’s face to make everyone happy.
Now I may come back to the question just now. Do you know what barley is? If I told you that highland barley is barley and barley is highland barley, you might be surprised.
In fact, this is indeed the case. Highland barley is a type of barley, and it belongs to a family of Hordeum in the Gramineae family. And this barley has a characteristic, that is, three spikelets grow side by side on the nodes of its cobs. We call it triple spikelet, which is different from wheat.
And barley is also different from ordinary barley, because when the barley matures, the seeds in it can leave the outer coating, and the coating is also called lemma and lemma.
So many people call it naked barley because it has no clothes and no skin. The common barley we nowadays is called barley, because it wears a “leather” on the outside.
So highland barley is very important in Tibet, but even though it is so important, it is now facing some problems. For example, many ancient traditional varieties have disappeared . Because of the lack of protection, these ancient species have been forgotten, so their disappearance is very serious.
Another problem is degradation. Some good varieties, such as purple highland barley, are rich in nutrients and are traditional and particularly delicious highland barley varieties. But maybe slowly everyone doesn’t pay attention, and it degenerates.
Carrying Forward the Spirit of Seeds: A Story of Chasing Light in Tibet
At such a very important moment, we carried forward Zhong Yang’s seed spirit and launched two activities. The first activity is called science and technology aid to Tibet. Just now we mentioned that our team at Fudan University, Tibet University, Tibet Agriculture and Animal Husbandry University, and the Institute of Agriculture and Animal Husbandry jointly studied some of the issues mentioned earlier.
And I also have a Tibetan complex in it. Because in the 1980s, I visited Tibet many times in order to study wheat, barley and some of its genetic resources. In that place, I personally tasted highland barley wine and tsampa, and felt the enthusiasm of the Tibetans. I always feel that I want to give back to Tibet, so I have been doing science, education and science and technology aid to Tibet for these years.
From the picture, we can see that the girl wearing pink clothes is a Tibetan girl. She is a postgraduate jointly trained by Fudan University and Tibet University. Her name is Nima Quzhen. She is doing such a very important task of protecting highland barley resources, digging up highland barley resources, and researching highland barley resources.
We also saw two very beautiful pictures of highland barley, this is the purple highland barley, the purple highland barley, very beautiful. And through our research with children from Yadong Middle School, we found that the purple barley is rich in nutrients, which needs to be excavated and used for breeding.
I just talked about science and technology aid to Tibet, so in fact, I myself lead a team of experts as a volunteer. We went to the Yadong Middle School on the border of Tibet to help the children there.
Because Professor Zhong Yang once had a dream, he said that he would sow the seeds of hope and science in remote mountainous areas. Especially Tibet, in the hearts of children in such areas. So we are doing such a thing.
Through the work of scientific and educational aid to Tibet, they are given the education of virtue and cultivation, the cultivation of scientific literacy, and the education of patriotism. At the same time teach them to do scientific research and understand scientific issues. In this way, the child can see his future growth path, especially with the support of our “Leyang Charity” and “Poker Charity”, we have persisted for many years and have been doing this work.
You can see the very sincere vision of the Tibetan children in the picture. Some children were embarrassed to speak before, but now they can stand up boldly and speak scientific principles. Seeing the changes in them, we were infinitely moved.
In the process of scientific and educational aid to Tibet, there are also many touching stories. In fact, after we left Tibet, our classmates were very reluctant to let us go, holding our hands. After we left, the children sent Tibetan poems.
There is a poem with a hidden head. It is clearly marked as a poem with a hidden head. It says “Teacher Lu Baorong, I love you”. In addition to this touching, I also want to tell the children in Tibet that I love you too! I also hope that everyone will join in such a very meaningful event.
I just finished telling the story of Tibet, I want to summarize it . I believe in light, because light is hope. In the process of chasing hope, mankind has opened the door to civilization and planted the seeds of the future; moreover, it has developed the society to such a prosperous and powerful situation as it is today. Therefore, the domestication of plants and the domestication of life are very important.
We have also mentioned that due to development, our population has also grown rapidly. In 1900, the population of the earth may be only one billion; but in the future, it is predicted that the global population will rise to 9 billion by 2050. So many people want to eat, what if we don’t have new technology? It definitely won’t work.
Moreover, China is actively developing, and some forces do not want China to develop, but hope to get our neck stuck. The chip is the best example, but if we get stuck in the neck when eating, then the society will be turbulent and the society will stop developing.
Therefore, we say that genetic resources are too important. It is related to our future. In the future, fierce competition in the world may be aimed at important genetic resources.
So we must rely on technology and the technology we have. For example, some advanced technologies such as biotechnology and IT technology, coupled with good genetic resources, we have both clever women and good rice. In this way, we can make a good meal and hold our rice bowl firmly in our own hands.
Only in this way can we resolve a crisis brought about by food security; only by ensuring our jobs can we truly realize the great revival of the Chinese nation and enable the sustainable development of society.
thank you all!
Posted by:CoinYuppie，Reprinted with attribution to:https://coinyuppie.com/why-does-plant-domestication-open-the-door-to-human-civilization/
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