Domestication is a co-evolutionary process that occurs when wild plants are brought into cultivation by humans, leading to origin of new species and/or differentiated populations that are critical for human survival. Darwin used domesticated species as early models for evolution, highlighting their variation and the key role of selection in species differentiation. Over the last two decades, a growing synthesis of plant genetics, genomics, and archaeobotany has led to challenges to old orthodoxies and the advent of fresh perspectives on how crop domestication and diversification proceed. I discuss four new insights into plant domestication — that in general domestication is a protracted process, that unconscious (natural) selection plays a prominent role, that interspecific hybridization may be an important mechanism for crop species diversification and range expansion, and that similar genes across multiple species underlies parallel/convergent phenotypic evolution between domesticated taxa. Insights into the evolutionary origin and diversification of crop species can help us in developing new varieties (and possibly even new species) to deal with current and future environmental challenges in a sustainable manner. Purugganan reviews the insights into crop domestication that have been reinforced by recent research in genetics/genomics and archaeobotany.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
- Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)