Darwinian Agriculture: Real, Imaginary and Complex Trade-offs as Constraints and Opportunities

R. Ford Denison

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

24 Scopus citations


This chapter discusses trade-offs, which can represent either constraints or opportunities. The ideas presented are only a subset of the potential applications of evolutionary biology to the genetic improvement of crop plants. A better understanding of trade-offs is key to understanding past progress, remaining opportunities, and the ultimate limits to crop genetic improvement. The success of the Green Revolution depended on trade-offs between the competitiveness of individual plants against each other, which was favored by past natural selection and the collective seed yield of crops. Some trade-offs that shaped past evolution still act as constraints on further crop improvement. There appears to be a trade-off between specificity and reaction rate, with natural selection having balanced the two goals differently in terrestrial versus aquatic environments. A detailed mechanism for such a trade-off has been proposed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationCrop Physiology
Subtitle of host publicationApplications for Genetic Improvement and Agronomy
Number of pages21
ISBN (Print)9780123744319
StatePublished - Apr 15 2009

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2009 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved..


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