Nature is vast and profound. After hundreds of millions of years of evolution and development, there are millions of plants and fungi on the earth’s land. They also contain extremely rich genetic genes that humans cannot fully understand. In contrast, the species and genetic resources that have been developed and utilized as crops are not enough to cope with the reality of population growth, reduction of usable land area and scarcity of fresh water resources. Agricultural scientists have been exploring “super crops”.
Tomato and potato hybrids are exciting
In 1980, a piece of news was published in the “Science Yearbook”: Melchers, a plant physiologist at the Max Planck Institute of Biology in Tübingen, Federal Republic of Germany, and his colleagues, used cell fusion technology to cultivate the first plant in 1978. Tomato-potato hybrids – have the ability to grow two crops on the same plant, ie tomatoes in the ground and potatoes in the soil. However, researchers did not know at the time whether this hybrid breed could produce offspring with quality and yield not lower than that of the original breed.
According to reports, after 15 years of trial and error, the British Paul Hansuo finally succeeded in cultivating a “twin vine” plant, that is, tomatoes grow on the top of the plant and potatoes grow underground.
Both tomatoes and potatoes are crops that have taken the world by storm. If their hybrid varieties are successfully launched, it will surprise farmers and “gourmets” all over the world to “have both their cakes and their cakes”. But more than 30 years have passed, and the author has never heard any news in this regard. It wasn’t until an inadvertent browsing on the Internet a few years ago that the spark of hope was rekindled.
In 2016, there was a news report that after 15 years of trial and error, the British Paul Hanso finally succeeded in cultivating a “twin vine” plant, that is, tomatoes grow on the top of the plant and potatoes grow underground. To illustrate its veracity, the report also included photos of Hansuo and his “new breed”. Judging from the photos, this “sphinx” plant can be described as a double harvest of potatoes and tomatoes, which is amazing. But after thinking about it, it makes people feel puzzled: in the era when “April Fool’s Day” news often entertains the public and computer software puzzles are easy to do, this kind of picture creation can be completed with just a few fingers. Of course, from the perspective of contemporary agricultural development, we hope that there will be such “super crops” in our vegetable gardens and fields, and the more the better. This is not only related to the enrichment of the human food basket, but also the hope of ecological agriculture and healthy agriculture.
The reason why people make decisions on potatoes and tomatoes has its inherent scientific reason: these two plants are from the Americas, both belong to the Solanaceae plant in botany, and the genetic relationship is not too far away. There are certain commonalities. However, the potatoes and tomatoes currently grown in agriculture have been artificially cultivated for hundreds of years, and their biological characteristics and ecological adaptability are gradually drifting away from the native species. If the two are combined, even if they can produce fertile offspring, The variation of its taste and the reproduction of the toxicity of the original species are also huge obstacles in application. Because this new variety is for food, not a novelty plant for ornamental purposes, it cannot be successfully cultivated by one person using conventional breeding methods for more than ten years. Compared with it, the hybrid breeding between eggplant and potato, which belong to the same genus of nightshade, may be more realistic, but it will not have the sensational effect achieved by the successful hybridization of potatoes and tomatoes.
Jerusalem artichoke and sunflower hybrids may wish to try
Both Jerusalem artichoke and sunflower are native to the prairies of North America, and are also widely cultivated in other temperate regions far from their homeland. They are called “star crops”. These two have similar characteristics to the above-mentioned combination of tomatoes and potatoes, that is, sunflower is popular all over the world for its aboveground fruit (commonly known as sunflower seeds), while Jerusalem artichoke is popular for its underground tubers. Moreover, the genetic relationship between the two is closer, and the possibility of producing potentially toxic substances in the “new species” after hybridization is very small.
Compared with sunflowers, Jerusalem artichoke is not only slightly shorter in stature, but also has a much smaller flower disc (flower head) at the top of the stem, and the seeds produced are very small and have little edible value. However, Jerusalem artichoke uses the hard work of multiplying offspring on the underground tubers, storing a large amount of organic matter produced by photosynthesis in them, which becomes the reserve food for new plants to germinate again in the next spring. This is a biological feature that annual sunflowers do not have. . It is this way of survival of Jerusalem artichoke that provides an important source of food for the Indians in the place of origin. They call the Jerusalem artichoke root “sun root” and grow it in beds for early spring when food is scarce.
In the early 17th century, French immigrants in Canada brought this tuber back to Europe for planting. Soon, the crop, known as the “Canadian potato,” became popular for its taste suited to local aristocrats and inspired many daring recipes. But after the 19th century, compared with the real potato of the nightshade family, Jerusalem artichoke was dwarfed in terms of farming methods and popular taste, lost its advantages, became less famous, and even faded out of people’s vision.
The resurgence of the Jerusalem artichoke is the result of a rediscovery by modern organic crop gardeners and nutritional researchers. After in-depth research, they found that Jerusalem artichoke tubers contain more minerals than potatoes, more iron than spinach, and six times more potassium than bananas. The tuber is also rich in calcium carbonate and silica, which are good for teeth and bones. Jerusalem artichoke is also a good source of fructo-oligosaccharides (FOS), which can increase the number of bifidobacteria in the lower intestinal tract, thereby promoting intestinal health and improving human immunity. Jerusalem artichoke tubers in particular do not contain starch but contain inulin. In the liver, inulin is converted into glycogen. Glycogen is a polysaccharide that stabilizes blood sugar levels, which in turn reduces hunger and suppresses appetite. Additionally, inulin stimulates the pancreas to secrete insulin, making it ideal for early-stage and adult-onset diabetes.
Jerusalem artichoke is short in stature, with small flower discs (flower heads) growing on the top of the stem, and the seeds produced are small and of little edible value. But Jerusalem artichoke has used the effort to reproduce offspring on the underground tubers
The tubers of Jerusalem artichoke, often colloquially called “Jerusalem,” contain more minerals than potatoes, more iron than spinach, and six times more potassium than bananas
From a planting point of view, Jerusalem artichoke has three to four times the edible volume of potatoes in the same area of land, and requires very little care. Therefore, even if it is planted scattered in front of the house, on the roadside and on the ground, as long as there is enough light, it can inadvertently bring benefits. In my country, the tubers of Jerusalem artichoke are often commonly called “Jerusalem japonicus”. The tubers are eaten as pickles and are mostly scattered in farms, rarely occupying farmland for large-scale cultivation. There is great potential for further development and utilization. If the hybrid breeding of Jerusalem artichoke and sunflower is successful, an emerging “super crop” with a win-win yield of high-quality oilseeds and inulin will bring even greater benefits to farmers.
Burdock – “quasi-super crop” around
Burdock is a biennial herb of Compositae. It is native to the temperate zone of Eurasia. It is not difficult to see in the humid valleys and grasslands in the north and south of my country. It has thick stems as tall as a man, clustered on the ground with leaves as wide as elephant ears, a strong fleshy taproot that penetrates deep into the soil; in early summer many small purple flowers form flower heads, and among the numerous green hooked spines Involucre-shaped clusters open on the top of the stem. All this shows that under the care of the sun and rain, it has a super strong body, and its biomass far exceeds that of the surrounding grass and many cultivated crops in the farmland. Therefore, burdock has been favored by humans for a long time, and it is called “bear plant” in some European countries because of its large size.
Burdock is a biennial herb of Compositae. Under the care of sunlight and rain, it has a super strong body, and its biomass far exceeds that of the surrounding grass and many cultivated crops in the farmland.
In Japan, the roots and shoots of burdock are highly valued and considered one of the most popular vegetables
Whether it is in most parts of China or in Europe, burdock is not regarded as an edible plant and enters the farmland and vegetable garden because of its strong bitter taste, but its roots, seeds (chenes) and even stems and leaves are regarded as detoxifying Good medicine, utilization and cultivation are more common.
In Japan, the roots and shoots of burdock are highly valued and considered one of the most popular vegetables. To meet the high demand, burdock is currently grown for food on large industrial plantations. The roots of burdock grow in loose, fertile soil, can grow to the size of a baseball bat, and have a strong, nutty flavor. The vegetable is added to soups, deep-fried into tempura, or mixed with seaweed, carrots and other vegetables, fried in sesame oil and seasoned with ginger and soy sauce, and served with rice and fish. The young shoots taste like an edible thistle. Because they have a strong bitter taste, they need to be eaten with special sauces to give them a special delicious taste.
Modern research shows that burdock root has high nutritional value. Not only does it contain protein, vitamins C, B1, B6, B12, and E, and many minerals (including potassium carbonate, sulfur, silica, and manganese), but like many plants of the Compositae family, such as Jerusalem artichoke, the The carbohydrates are mainly composed of inulin, which makes it one of the ideal diets for diabetics. There are many secondary metabolites in the body of burdock that are beneficial to human health, such as burdock picrine, arctiin, tannin, and volatile oil. Burdock is also a kind of oil plant. Through the analysis of samples produced in Liaoning, my country, it was found that its capsules contain 18% oil, of which oleic acid accounts for 25.5%, linoleic acid accounts for 56.6%, and linolenic acid accounts for 7.9%. It can be seen that burdock is a plant with high utilization value in roots, stems, leaves and fruits. It has the potential of cultivating high-yield, high-quality, edible and medicinal “super crops”, which should arouse people’s special attention .
Evening Primrose – New Contribution to an Old Crop
Evening primrose belongs to the genus Evening Primrose of the willow leaf family. There are 119 species in this genus, all of which are native to the Americas and are a traditional edible and medicinal plant of the local aborigines. In the bright summer sun, this tall weed looks unremarkable and hardly attracts attention. But when night fell, a touching scene appeared: its delicate bright yellow flowers began to bloom, and a pleasant fragrance soon filled the air, followed by pollinators, the sphinx moth. Hovering over the flowers as if by magic. Although each flower only blooms for one night, many flowers come and go one after another, and the night scene of fragrant flowers and moths often lasts until early autumn.
No wonder this night-obsessed plant was introduced to Italy in the 17th century, and it quickly fascinated the European people who were influenced by the Renaissance and had an aesthetic temperament. The performances of the opera were postponed to the theater to enjoy the performance of the opera, so that the nobles in the European Baroque period rushed to plant evening primroses in their gardens. Soon, the middle class followed suit. This fashion has been extended to the common people.
Evening primrose may look plain, but when night falls, a moving scene occurs: its delicate bright yellow flowers begin to bloom, and the fragrance is full of…
Evening primrose and pink sphinx moth. Evening primrose is a “super crop” that is easy to cultivate and has high medical value, edible value and ornamental value
Later, evening primrose also took its place in the farm garden. At this point, its edible value was gradually recognized by the European people: when farmers at that time carried out simple tillering propagation of evening primrose, they found that the thick taproot of this biennial plant was pink at the end of the first year, and it was delicious. Meaty, like tender cooked ham, with a delicate taste like salsify. Evening primrose’s young leaves have also been found to be tossed in salads, while its attractive yellow flowers make a great garnish. So while watching, evening primrose came to the table of Europeans as a delicacy.
Since the 1980s, in addition to the ornamental and edible value of evening primrose, doctors and nutritionists have turned their attention to the health care value of evening primrose. Scientific analysis shows that evening primrose seeds are rich in edible oils, of which linoleic acid accounts for more than 70%, and what is particularly amazing is that about 10% of evening primrose oil is gamma-linolenic acid. Gamma-linolenic acid is a fatty acid that the body uses to produce prostaglandins, making evening primrose oil one of the most widely used botanical supplements in the world. Several clinical studies have confirmed that this oil is very successful in treating eczema and has a significant therapeutic effect on rheumatoid arthritis; taking this oil can help delay the onset and progression of diabetic neuropathy (nerve damage). Scientific research also shows that γ-linolenic acid can lower cholesterol, lower blood pressure and eliminate blood clots.
Evening primrose has strong ecological adaptability and strong self-propagation ability. As long as there are certain light conditions, it can grow in relatively barren and dry sandy soil without special care. The seed oil produced by plants grown in more fertile soil had lower levels of gamma-linolenic acid. Therefore, evening primrose is a “super crop” that is easy to cultivate and has high medical value, edible value and ornamental value, and should be paid attention to.
Developing a salt-tolerant “super crop” – evening primrose by the sea
About 10 species of evening primrose have been introduced and cultivated in China, and they have all “escaped” from the garden and become free wild people, multiplying in their own suitable environment. Among them, evening primrose, native to the beaches of the United States and eastern Mexico, has spread and grown on the beaches of Fujian, Guangdong and other places in my country. Because of the large and gorgeous flowers of this evening primrose, it has the reputation of “sea lotus”.
Scientists have found that seaside evening primrose is also similar to its close relative evening primrose. The seeds contain higher γ-linolenic acid, and the pollen yield is large, rich in nutrition, and has high development and utilization value. Especially favored by agricultural and plant experts, it is not only a potential super-halophytic crop itself, but also provides high-quality genes for the cultivation of more seawater-resistant crops.
As we all know, life originated from the ocean. Although the current terrestrial plants have left the “cradle of life” long ago, there may still be genes adapted to seawater conditions in their genetic material. In the long-term evolution process of the survival of the fittest, some plants have gradually formed the ecological habit of salt tolerance, and thrive in the intertidal zone of the seashore or in the environment with high salt content in the soil, becoming “halophytes” or “tolerant plants”. Halophytes”. Among them, the most typical halophytes are mangrove plants that can be seen on the coastal beaches of South China and Southeast China, such as mangroves, candela, sea lotus, sea paint, tung tree, olive plum, and sea mulberry. In addition, some saline-alkali-tolerant plants grow on beaches that are in direct contact with seawater, such as the Chenopodiaceae plant Suaeda salsa that is widely distributed at the estuary of the Yellow River in my country; others mainly grow on saline-alkali land in inland deserts with dry climates or Around the salt lake, such as Tamarix, Populus euphratica, Elaeagnus sativa, sour thorn (vinegar willow), camel thorn and white thorn. Among the various salt-alkali-tolerant plants, there are also some traditional cultivated crops, such as sugar beet, millet, cotton, sorghum, sunflower, etc.
Seaside evening primrose, which is native to the beaches of the United States and eastern Mexico, has long spread and grown on the beaches of Fujian, Guangdong and other places in my country. This evening primrose seed contains more gamma-linolenic acid, and has a large pollen output and rich nutrition. It is also a potential super halophytic crop.
Salt-tolerant plants mangroves, the scientific and rational utilization of these salt-tolerant plants has far-reaching significance for the development of agriculture
These typical halophytes or saline-alkali-tolerant plants have certain salt-resistant abilities: they either reduce the metal ions in the salt from entering the body through the selective absorption and isolation of structures such as Caspian bands in the root tissue; or The metal ions entering the body are carried by water-soluble chemical substances such as anthocyanins, and are transferred to the salt glands at the top of the branches and leaves of the plant to be secreted out of the body; In the roots, bark and intercellular spaces, it does not interfere with the normal physiological and biochemical processes of plants, and achieves the salt-tolerant characteristics that can stand alone in salt water or take root in saline-alkali soil. The scientific and rational use of these salt-alkali-tolerant plants has far-reaching significance for the development of agriculture!