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Unconscious selection drove seed enlargement in vegetable crops [Evolution Letters]

Benoît Pujol

par Frédéric Magné - publié le

Domesticated grain crops evolved from wild plants under human cultivation, losing natural dispersal mechanisms to become dependent upon humans, and showing changes in a suite of other traits, including increasing seed size. There is tendency for seed enlargement during domestication to be viewed as the result of deliberate selection for large seeds by early farmers. However, like some other domestication traits, large seeds may have evolved through natural selection from the activities of people as they gathered plants from the wild, or brought them into cultivation in anthropogenic settings. Alternatively, larger seeds could have arisen via pleiotropic effects or genetic linkage, without foresight from early farmers, and driven by selection that acted on other organs or favored larger plants. We have separated these unconscious selection effects on seed enlargement from those of deliberate selection, by comparing the wild and domesticated forms of vegetable crops.(...)

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