Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

History to blame for slow crop taming, study shows

Date:
May 5, 2014
Source:
University of Guelph
Summary:
It's been about 10,000 years since our ancestors began farming, but crop domestication has taken much longer than expected -- a delay caused less by genetics and more by culture and history, according to a new study. The new paper digs at the roots not just of crop domestication but of civilization itself: How did humans get food? Without domestication -- without food -- it's hard for populations to settle down," the lead researcher said. "Domestication was the key for all subsequent human civilization."

It's been about 10,000 years since our ancestors began farming, but crop domestication has taken much longer than expected -- a delay caused less by genetics and more by culture and history, according to a new study co-authored by University of Guelph researchers.

Related Articles


The new paper digs at the roots not just of crop domestication but of civilization itself, says plant agriculture professor Lewis Lukens. "How did humans get food? Without domestication -- without food -- it's hard for populations to settle down," he said. "Domestication was the key for all subsequent human civilization."

The study appears this the current issue of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Lukens and Guelph PhD student Ann Meyer worked on the study with biologists at Oklahoma State University and Washington State University.

Examining crop domestication tells us how our ancestors developed food, feed and fiber leading to today's crops and products. Examining crop genetics might also help breeders and farmers looking to further refine and grow more crops for an expanding human population.

"This work is largely historical, but there are increasing demands for food production, and understanding the genetic basis of past plant improvement should help future efforts," he said.

The Guelph team analyzed data from earlier studies of domesticated cereal crop species, and the American scientists also performed field tests.

To study the historical effects of interactions between genes and between genes and the environment, they looked at genes controlling several crop plant traits.

Domestication has yielded modern crops whose seeds resist shattering, such as corn whose kernels stay on the cob instead of falling off. Early agriculturalists also shortened flowering time for crops, necessary in shorter growing seasons as in Canada.

Domestication traits are known to have developed more slowly than expected over the past 10,000 years. The researchers wondered whether genetic factors hindered transmission of genes controlling such traits. Instead, they found that domestication traits are often faithfully passed from parent to progeny, and often more so than ancestral traits, said Lukens.

That suggests cultural and historical factors -- anything from war and famine to lack of communication among separated populations -- accounted for the creeping rate of domestication.

"We conclude that the slow adaptation of domesticated plants by humans was likely due to historical factors that limited technological progress," said Lukens.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of Guelph. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. A. N. Doust, L. Lukens, K. M. Olsen, M. Mauro-Herrera, A. Meyer, K. Rogers. Beyond the single gene: How epistasis and gene-by-environment effects influence crop domestication. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 2014; 111 (17): 6178 DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1308940110

Cite This Page:

University of Guelph. "History to blame for slow crop taming, study shows." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 5 May 2014. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/05/140505112546.htm>.
University of Guelph. (2014, May 5). History to blame for slow crop taming, study shows. ScienceDaily. Retrieved October 30, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/05/140505112546.htm
University of Guelph. "History to blame for slow crop taming, study shows." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/05/140505112546.htm (accessed October 30, 2014).

Share This



More Plants & Animals News

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Galapagos Tortoises Bounce Back, But Ecosystem Lags

Galapagos Tortoises Bounce Back, But Ecosystem Lags

Newsy (Oct. 29, 2014) The Galapagos tortoise has made a stupendous recovery from the brink of extinction to a population of more than 1,000. But it still faces threats. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Obama: The US Will Not 'run and Hide' From Ebola

Obama: The US Will Not 'run and Hide' From Ebola

AP (Oct. 29, 2014) Surrounded by health care workers in the White House East Room, President Barack Obama said the U.S. will likely see additional Ebola cases in the weeks ahead. But he said the nation can't seal itself off in the fight against the disease. (Oct. 29) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Oatmeal Healthy Recipes and Benefits

Oatmeal Healthy Recipes and Benefits

Buzz60 (Oct. 29, 2014) Oatmeal is a fantastic way to start your day. Whichever way you prepare them, oats provide your body with many health benefits. In celebration of National Oatmeal Day, Krystin Goodwin (@krystingoodwin) has a few recipe ideas, and tips on how to kickstart your day with this wholesome snack! Video provided by Buzz60
Powered by NewsLook.com
GoPro Video Gives a Lion's-Eye View of The Hunt

GoPro Video Gives a Lion's-Eye View of The Hunt

Buzz60 (Oct. 29, 2014) If you’ve ever wondered what getting takeout looks like for lions in Africa, the GoPro video from Lion Whisperer Kevin Richardson will give you a lion’s-eye view of the hunt. Jen Markham has more. Video provided by Buzz60
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Plants & Animals

Earth & Climate

Fossils & Ruins

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins