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Title: coconut-01
Author: Jeremy Cherfas
Date: 5 October 2016
Format: snippet
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# Coconut

## _Cocos nucifera_
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Coconuts are the fruit of a palm and are found throughout the tropics. Coconuts supply many human needs, including food, drink and building materials. Their ability to survive long periods in seawater, and their value to early seafaring people, has resulted in them being widely dispersed.

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There are two distinct types, known as _niu kafa_ and _niu vai_, the names in Samoan for traditional Polynesian varieties. _Niu kafa_ coconuts are triangular and oblong with a large fibrous husk, while _niu vai_ types are more rounded and contain plentiful sweet coconut "water" when unripe. _Niu vai_ types are often borne on dwarf trees, which suggests that they are more domesticated. However, [a DNA analysis][plos] indicates two independent centres of domestication, one in island Southeast Asia and one on the southern margins of the Indian subcontinent. _Niu vai_ types arose only in the Pacific basin.
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Genesys lists [168 coconut accessions][goo]. The bulk of these (86%) are in a field genebank at the Station de Recherche Marc Delorme in Ivory Coast, with the remainder in the USA. About 43% are traditional cultivars and landraces and 40% are improved cultivars.

The difficulty of controlling pollination, with the flowers at the top of tall trees, makes it difficult and costly to regenerate field collections as the trees age. Furthermore, field genebanks face external threats from diseases and, potentially, climate change. A plan has been launched to [safeguard the International Coconut Genebank in Papua New Guinea][cogentnetwork] from nearby disease. Research into [cryopreservation of coconut][ishs] is continuing and [shows promise][ishs 2].

[cogentnetwork]: http://www.cogentnetwork.org/53-news/197-international-coconut-genebank-rescue-plan-launched-in-png
[goo]: https://goo.gl/1XIKbT
[ishs]: http://www.ishs.org/ishs-article/1039_37
[ishs 2]: http://www.ishs.org/ishs-article/908_59
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[plos]: http://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0021143