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Abstract Detail

Society for Economic Botany/BSA Economic Botany Section

Meyer, Rachel [1], DuVal, Ashley [2], Jensen, Helen [3].

Patterns and dynamic processes in crop domestication: a historical review of global food crops.

Crop domestication has been a structuring element of human societies for the past 10,000 years. The changes (genetic, morphological, chemical, etc.) that accompany domestication provide insight into the selection pathways of crop evolution and reflect the needs and values of societies that cultivate them. For a subset of major crops, the domestication syndromes, and selection pathways, are well characterized. However, much less is known about these processes for most crops, particularly those of minor economic importance. Even many crops of substantial economic and cultural importance are under-studied with limited information available in reviews on their domestication syndrome, selection pathways and original uses. With limited reference information, it is difficult to compare lesser-known crops to well-studied model crops in guiding new research or educational efforts. In this study, we review and compare data on a broad cross-section of crops to highlight patterns of domestication and identify potential novel research directions in the field of crop evolution. We selected over 125 food crops with origins throughout the world and compiled taxonomic, archaeological, ethnobotanical, genetic, physiological, phylogeographic and conservation information. These data were summarized in tables, timelines, and narratives. Cluster analyses were performed to identify similar patterns among subsets of crops and also to identify gaps in the literature indicating domestication syndromes and selection pathways that have not been thoroughly investigated. We identified an important subset of crops whose original uses differ significantly from their contemporary primary uses as food. Additionally, data suggests that genetic bottlenecking, resulting from intensive selection, often occurred relatively recently despite exploitation of a species for thousands of years. This review highlights the dynamic and ongoing nature of domestication processes and the threats posed by genetic erosion, varietal extinction and loss of crop wild relatives. We identify both common trends and divergent patterns in crop evolution. The review also provides a reference for studies on crop plants, particularly those for which limited data and reviews are available.

Broader Impacts:

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1 - The City University of New York Graduate Center, Biology, 365 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY, 10016, United States
2 - Yale University, School of Forestry and Environmental Studies, 195 Prospect Street, New Haven, CT, 06511, USA
3 - McGill University, Department of Biology, 1205 Dr. Penfield Avenue, Montreal, QC, H3A 1B1, Canada

domestication syndrome
selection pathway
crop plants
crop evolution
genetic resource conservation
crop wild relatives.

Presentation Type: Oral Paper:Papers for Sections
Session: 49
Location: Maryland Room/Chase Park Plaza
Date: Wednesday, July 13th, 2011
Time: 3:00 PM
Number: 49007
Abstract ID:241

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