The representatives of the Ecuadorian university La Escuela Superior Politécnica de Chimborazo, Dr. Verónica Caballero-Serrano and Dr. Juan Carlos Carrasco, visited the Tropical Botany and Ethnobiology Lab.
On Friday 6th of October, the doors of the Herbarium of Tropical Botany and Ethnobiology Lab were opened to the public during The Researchers’ Night event.
Garcinia kola Heckel (Clusiaceae) is a multipurpose tree with significant cultural and economic relevance, primarily used as a medicinal plant in West and Central Africa.
Our colleague and friend Naji Sulaiman has been a key internal member of TRIBE lab since 2016. After completing PhD study at our faculty in March 2023, Naji has been recently appointed as an Assistant Professor of Environmental and Applied Botany at the University of Gastronomic Sciences in Pollenzo – Bra, Italy.
Our colleague Dr. Naji Sulaiman, a former member of TRIBE lab, has been interviewed by the prestigious international newspaper The New York Times.
Eleven years of the war in Syria have caused substantial socioeconomic and cultural changes, and have led to widespread food insecurity across the country. Our recently published study in the journal Economic Botany (IF: 2.6, Q2 in Plant Sciences) seeks to scrutinize the impact of socioeconomic factors on the use of wild food plants during the conflict. The study revealed that the number of used species had a significant statistical relationship with informant age and annual household income, while informant gender was a predictor for both reliance on wild plants and frequency of use.
Our colleague and friend Azamat Azarov is a member of TRIBE lab since 2020. Azamat recently defended his PhD thesis entitled Development of methodology for mountainous farming systems classification: Case study of Tien Shan Mountains, Kyrgyzstan. Azamat will continue his career at the Mountain Societies Research Institute of the University of Central Asia in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan.
Congratulations on behalf of the whole team!
Zbyněk Polesný, the leader of The Tropical Botany and Ethnobiology Lab (TRIBE), has been appointed to the editorial board of the Springer journal Genetic Resources and Crop Evolution (IF 1.876, Q3 in both Agronomy and Plant Sciences) as an associate editor.
Genetic Resources and Crop Evolution covers all aspects of plant genetic resources research with original articles in taxonomical, morphological, physiological, biochemical, genetic, cytological or ethnobotanical research on genetic resources and includes contributions to gene bank management: collecting, maintenance, evaluation, storage and documentation.
Areas of interest include crop evolution, domestication, crop-weed relationships, agrobiodiversity related wild species and the history of cultivated plants including palaeoethnobotany.
The journal also presents short communications on such topics as newly described crop taxa, nomenclatural notes, reports of collecting missions, and evaluation results of gene bank material, as well as book reviews of important publications in the field of genetic resources.
A recent study led by TRIBE team members Jana Horackova, Zbynek Polesny and Naji Sulaiman documents the use of 467 medicinal plant species by the Cashinahua (also known as Huni Kuin) people of the Peruvian Amazon, highlighting 79 wild plant taxa that have been unreported or rarely cited for medicinal use or phytochemical analysis.
The tribal communities in the Bastar region have been depending on the wild plant resources since time immemorial and therefore have extensive knowledge of identification, management, and use of wild edible plants. However, the ethnobotanical research on indigenous plant knowledge in Central India has been so far focused on medicinal plants, while the traditional ecological knowledge in the context of wild edible plants and community biodiversity management remains neglected.
Our colleague and friend Naji Sulaiman, a member of TRIBE lab since 2016, has recently defended his PhD thesis entitled “The Importance of Wild Plants for People during the Conflict in Syria”.
Although a high diversity of tropical root and tuber crops and plants are used by indigenous people in the tropics since ancient times, many of these species are still largely unexplored and neglected by science. In the frame of the dissertation entitled ‘Characterization of plant genetic resources of root and tuber crops used in the Peruvian Amazon’, a member of our team Goldis Perry Davila has recently returned from his field research expedition to Ucayali, San Martín and Loreto Regions. During this phase of his field research, he conducted an ethnobotanical survey of local markets and communities through individual semi-structured interviews and focus group discussions complemented with voucher specimen collection. The preliminary results highlighted 9 key species, namely Calathea allouia, Colocasia esculenta, Dioscorea alata, Dioscorea trifida, Dioscorea bulbifera, Dracontium spruceanum, Pachyrhizus tuberosus and Xanthosoma sagittifolium. All documented species will be further investigated to characterize their intraspecific morphological and genetic variability.
Domestication of new plants is one of the key phenomena in the history of agriculture. Wild plants are the ancestors of current and future crops and the largest reservoir of genetic diversity for crop breeding and improvement. In a recent study, in which TRIBE members Naji Sulaiman and Zbynek Polesny take a leading role, we highlighted a total of 20 wild plant taxa from five war-affected and food-insecure regions (five species from each region). The suggested species have a high possibility of becoming novel crops and may significantly help local communities in their livelihoods, food security, and domestic nutritional care.
The tropical forests of Central Africa represent an immense diversity of valuable plant species that local people have long exploited for their needs. Despite their economic importance, these species often remain marginal and neglected by mainstream development or agricultural policies. The actual paper published in Economic Botany investigates management practices, plant part preferences, morphological characteristics, and the economy of bitter kola in different regions of the country.
The excessive collection of non-timber forest products and overgrazing of forest pastures negatively affect forest regeneration and biodiversity and subsequently impacts sustainable livelihoods in southwestern Kyrgyzstan. Understanding the diversity and typology of local farming systems is crucial for setting efficient and suitable policies to enhance livelihood and conservation. The actual paper, published in the journal Agriculture, is the result of a long-term cooperation between University of Central Asia, Rhine-Waal University and CZU Faculty of Tropical AgriSciences (research teams TRIBE and TRACE). The paper identifies three main farming systems with different livelihood strategies and challenges. The authors provide specific farm-type recommendations to increase the sustainable use of natural recourses in the target region.
The Mediterranean diet is recognized by UNESCO as an Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity, and it was previously reported that wild vegetables form a hidden element of this diet. In a recent study, in where TRIBE members Zbynek Polesny and Naji Sulaiman take part, we discuss the wild plants foraging by the Maronite diaspora in Northern Cyprus. The study has been published in Plants (Q1 in JCR; IF: 4.658) in the special issue Historical Ethnobotany: Interpreting the Old Records.
Plant foraging has been an important human ecological phenomenon since ancient times. However, the sustainability dimension of foraging is still largely unexplored. Our team, represented by Naji Sulaiman and Zbynek Polesny, have contributed to a newly published paper titled "The nexus between traditional foraging and its sustainability: a qualitative assessment among a few selected Eurasian case studies". The paper is published in the journal of Environment, Development and Sustainability (Springer, IF: 4.080); in a special issue in honour of David Pimentel (1925 – 2019). The study is built on data collected from coastal Syria, North Pakistan, SW Ukraine and Estonia.
Are 19th century botanical collections relevant to 21st century problems? Mark Nesbitt is the curator of the Economic Botany Collection and Senior Research Leader for Interdisciplinary Research at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew. He is a Visiting Professor in the Geography Department, Royal Holloway, Un
“To Get More Harvest”: Traditional Plant Management Systems of Northwestern North America by Speaker: Dr. Nancy J. Turner Distinguished Professor Emeritus School of Environmental Studies, University of Victoria, Canada
We are happy to announce that Dr. Lukáš Pawera, the TRIBE team alumnus, was elected the new Student Representative of the Society for Economic Botany. As a member of the TRIBE team, Lukáš successfully completed his PhD research project and defended his dissertation titled Food, agrobiodiversity and diet: the nutritional ethnobiology of the Minang and Mandailing indigenous food systems in West Sumatra.
Yerba maté (Ilex paraguariensis A.St.-Hil., Aquifoliaceae) consumption is commonly associated with some parts of South America; but do you know that Syria is the world’s second-largest importer of yerba mate?
The unique story of yerba maté in the Syrian beverage culture started at the beginning of the twentieth century when Syrian migrants returning from South America brought the beverage with them. The actual paper in Economic Botany investigates the social and cultural importance of this beverage among Syrian residents and diaspora, and analyzes the reasons and motives behind the yerba maté consumption in Syria, thousands of kilometres away from its centre of origin.
Some time ago, we moved our plant specimen collection to a new herbarium located on the 2nd floor of the FTA building. Currently, we are working on restoration/conservation of the specimens using the mounting material of archival quality and on the cataloging of the collection. We would like to express our thanks to all colleagues of the TRIBE team for their enthusiasm and great help.
The team from the CZU, namely Vladimír Verner, Radim Kotrba, Zbyněk Polesný, Jan Staš from FTZ and Miloslav Petrtýl from FAPPZ, is currently conducting fieldwork in the Western Province of Zambia. The activities are realized in the frame of implementation of two development projects, namely "Integrated Farming II" led by Mendel University in Brno and "Agribussines4LIFE “ led by Charita Czech Republic.