Mellissa Strong – day 4

In Irapuato- Salamanca where we spent most of our day. It was a beautiful 80 degree day with a blue clear sky, the sun was high and our faces are red.

We traveled to the Division of Life Sciences, a branch campus of the University of Guanajuato. Like Penn State, it is one University geographically dispersed. At this campus, there is a “Penn State” room. This is where we started our lessons on the endemic species Agave, Cactus and Mesquite.

The division of life sciences has 1587 students.

After our presentations we went to the agave center at the University. The average Agave plants have a life span of about 10-12 years. We got the basic run down on many species of Agave. We learned that 93% of the Agave grows in the wild 6% is semi domesticated and 1% is domesticated. The 1% is the Blue Agave which is the Agave that produced tequila. This plant causes a “clash” in the economic and natural standpoint. This is because many people want only to produce blue agave. This is fine, however, it is not preserving the genome of the other species. Economically, this Agave plant brings in the most money, and provides he most jobs. Interestingly enough, not all Agave plants are use to make Tequila, which is a common misconception. There are over 276 species of Agave. Different species have different uses. Two things that the University does is try to protect the Agave genome and promote other uses for Agave. Some of there uses other than Tequila include handcrafts, cosmetics, ornamental uses, uses for animal feed and the production of polque, and mezcal. Mezcal is the highest end tequila and can be produced from many different Agave plants. Most of the polque produced come from the salmina plant.

Agave is also important to Mexico because of its ability to preserve water and soil, he capturing of carbon dioxide, promoting Biodiversity, and Uses for ethanol.

Here you can see the National collection of Agave. As you can see, we learned many things about the endemic plant, Agave.

We also learned about other endemic plants like cactus. We learned about they process they use to replicate the plant called Invitro. This is used to preserve and produce many types of cacti. Cacti are used for medical, food and ornamental purposes.

This is an example of what reproducing cacti look like after invitro has taken place

The next endemic plant we learned about is mesquite

Above is some mesquite trees. It also has many different uses. Some of these uses are wood, furniture, construction, crafts, and cooking. They are also used to feed animals. 1 hector (about 2.5 acres) can feed about 25 goats. Interestingly, one of these desirable trees can provide 1000+ US dollars. The desired genome for this tree is a straight trunk with not alot of branches. This tree is also important because it provides shade for other plants to grow. Believe it or not this plant too causes a clash between the economic and natural law. The mesquite tree is A staple in the mexican villagers life. They need the tree to survive, they chop it down for there own use but this limits exports, but many people don’t replace the tree that they have used which is one of the biggest problems.

As you can see from all this we had a packed full day. My face is burnt and my brain is liquefying as we speak from all the knowledge that is being pounded in my head. Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone


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