The process of crop domestication has long been a topic of active research for biologists, anthropologists and others. Genetic data have proved a powerful resource for drawing inferences on questions regarding the geographical origins of crops, the numbers of independent domestication events for a given crop species, the specific molecular changes underlying domestication traits, and the nature of artificial selection during domestication and subsequent crop improvement. We would argue that these genetic inferences are fundamentally compatible with recent archaeological data that support a view of domestication as a geographically diffuse, gradual process. In this review, we summarize methodologies ranging from quantitative trait locus mapping to resequencing used in genetic analyses of crop evolution. We also highlight recent major insights regarding the timing and spatial patterning of crop domestication and the distinct genetic underpinnings of domestication, diversification and improvement traits.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
Special thanks to Genevieve K. Croft, Jared L. Strasburg, and Katherine E. Waselkov for their advice and critical review of an earlier version of this manuscript. B.L.G. was supported by a National Institutes of Health Ruth L. Kirschstein Postdoctoral Fellowship (1F32GM082165). K.M.O. was supported by a National Science Foundation PGRP award (DBI-0638820).