Workshop Materials

As a compliment to the 2009 NABT Symposium on 'Evolution in Extreme Environments' a half-day workshop was offered on a practical application of evolutionary theory to an agricultural problem exacerbated by climate change.  Tef, a critical food grain and fodder plant in Ethiopia, grows in a limited range restricted to relatively cool, damp, high altitude climates.  However, closely related species of tef are drought resistant (i.e. can withstand dry periods and small amounts of water) and even desiccation tolerant (i.e. can desiccate during extended dry periods and revive in the presence of water).  Extending the range for tef could be an important contribution to reducing world hunger, particularly as climate change increases temperatures and alters rainfall patterns.  Species of tef with wider ranges of growth conditions are potential sources of genetic improvements for the food crop. 

The workshop explores these ideas with an emphasis on applied evolution.  Tree thinking, or the ability to interpret phylogenies, is also addressed in this activity.  Material for the workshop is located on the BioQUEST Desiccation Tolerance website in “Making Tougher Tef”

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Dessiccation Tolerance Problem Space

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A problem space includes background information on a topic, data and tools that may be used to ask questions about the topic, and some examples of activities exploring the topic.  The idea behind a problem space is to provide enough support for students to begin exploring the concept further in any direction they choose.  This can be at a very basic level or more advanced.  This problem space combines the biology of desiccation tolerance with bioinformatics, biogeography, mathematics and applied evolution.

Supporting resources from Understanding Evolution