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Editorial Highlights from Evolutionary Applications 5.8

January 3, 2013

EVA 5 8Evolutionary Applications has now published issue 5.8. This is the final issue of 2012 – the year in which the journal became open access! We are excited to introduce a new section in Evolutionary Applications from this issue onwards. Highlights will feature recently published papers that use evolutionary biology to address questions of practical importance. In this issue we have summarized the abstracts of the papers and encourage you to read the full paper for more details. We welcome suggestions for papers to include in this section and we encourage you to use this section to keep up to date on the latest advances in applied evolutionary biology. Read the Highlights in applied evolutionary biology for the December issue.

Another interesting paper from this issue is On-farm dynamic management of genetic diversity: the impact of seed diffusions and seed saving practices on a population-variety of bread wheat by Thomas, M., Demeulenaere, E., Dawson, J. C., Khan, A. R., Galic, N., Jouanne-Pin, S., Remoue, C., Bonneuil, C. and Goldringer, I. The idea of a baguette, warm and steaming, fresh out of the oven is enough to make even the pickiest eater salivate.  Wheat, the main ingredient of that gastronomical delight, is one of the top three most produced grains in the world, and much research is being devoted to devising ways to ensure that the beloved crop can continue to be mass produced in the face of global climate change. 

One key element that is instrumental to the long-term sustainability of wheat (and the beloved baguette), is the amount of genetic diversity found in wheat worldwide.  Without any genetic diversity, every single population of wheat would be exactly identical, and this would make it very difficult to continue to breed or even genetically modify, strains of wheat to be better adapted to the environment.  In other words, if every plant is exactly the same, it would be impossible to select and breed only the individual plants that are better suited to, say, arid environments.

In this issue of Evolutionary Applications, Thomas et al. investigate patterns of genetic diversity in a variety of wheat in France named RDB (Rouge de Bordeau).  The authors write that populations of this variety of wheat have been maintained and circulated by small farms for several years in France, and that knowledge of the patterns of genetic variation across the country can help inform wheat conservation practices.  The authors find that across France, some populations of RDB have quite large amounts of genetic diversity, while others do not.  These results imply that the existence of these small farms, and of the type of farming practices in these locations are crucial for the country-wide maintenance of genetic diversity in wheat.  These results show us that the network of small local farms, and the local varieties of wheat that they grow are likely to be instrumental in ensuring that the wonders of the French baguette will be enjoyed by many more to come.

We hope you enjoy reading these articles, and the others within the issueEvolutionary Applications is an excellent forum in which to publish papers which explore the contributions that evolutionary concepts or methods have made, so do consider submitting a paper. We are keen to encourage papers that utilize concepts from evolutionary biology to address biological questions of health, social and economic relevance in areas such as conservation biology, aquaculture, agriculture, medicine, forestry, fisheries, climate change, microbiology and toxicology.  All papers are freely available to read, download and share and are highly visible. For full details about all subject areas which we consider, please view the aims and scopes on our website.

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