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Am J Bot. 2009 Oct;96(10):1869-79. doi: 10.3732/ajb.0800284.

A weed-crop complex in sorghum: The dynamics of genetic diversity in a traditional farming system.

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CIRAD, UMR 5175-CEFE (Centre d'Ecologie Fonctionnelle et Evolutive), 1919 route de Mende 34293 Montpellier, France.


Despite the major ecological and economic impacts of gene flow between domesticated plants and their wild relatives, many aspects of the process, particularly the relative roles of natural and human selection in facilitating or constraining gene flow, are still poorly understood. We developed a multidisciplinary approach, involving both biologists and social scientists, to investigate the dynamics of genetic diversity of a sorghum weed-crop complex in a village of Duupa farmers in northern Cameroon. Farmers distinguish a gradient from weedy morphotypes (naa baa see, haariya, and genkiya) to domesticated morphotypes; haariya and genkiya have intermediate morphological traits. We investigated the pattern of diversity in this complex using both morphological and genetic data. Our biological results are interpreted in the light of data on farmers' taxonomy and practices such as spatial pattern of planting and plant selection. Both morphological and genetic data are congruent with farmers' taxonomy and confirm the introgressed status of intermediate weedy morphotypes. Farmers actively select against weedy morphotypes, but several practices unconsciously favor gene flow. Furthermore, haariya and genkiya may facilitate introgression between naa baa see and domesticated morphotypes by virtue of their intermediate flowering period and their mode of management by farmers.

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