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Am J Bot. 2008 Feb;95(2):113-22. doi: 10.3732/ajb.95.2.113.

Molecular insights into the evolution of crop plants.

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  • 1Department of Plant Biology, University of Georgia, Athens, Georgia 30602 USA.


The domestication and improvement of crop plants have long fascinated evolutionary biologists, geneticists, and anthropologists. In recent years, the development of increasingly powerful molecular and statistical tools has reinvigorated this now fast-paced field of research. In this paper, we provide an overview of how such tools have been applied to the study of crop evolution. We also highlight lessons that have been learned in light of a few long-standing and interrelated hypotheses concerning the origins of crop plants and the nature of the genetic changes underlying their evolution. We conclude by discussing compelling evolutionary genomic approaches that make possible the efficient and unbiased identification of genes controlling crop-related traits and provide further insight into the actual timing of selection on particular genomic regions.

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