A combination of genetics and archaeology is revealing the complexity of the relationships between crop plants and their wild ancestors. Archaeobotanical studies are showing that acquisition of the full set of traits observed in domesticated cereals was a protracted process, intermediate stages being seen at early farming sites throughout the Fertile Crescent. New genetic data are confirming the multiregional nature of cereal domestication, correcting a previous view that each crop was domesticated by a rapid, unique and geographically localised process. Here we review the evidence that has prompted this reevaluation of the origins of domesticated crops in the Fertile Crescent and highlight the impact that this new multiregional model is having on modern breeding programmes. © 2008 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
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