The 'Human Mind' as a common denominator in plant domestication

Shahal Abbo, Simcha Lev-Yadun, Avi Gopher

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

Abstract

The role of conscious versus unconscious selection is a central issue in plant domestication. While some authors hold that domesticated plants arose due to unconscious dynamics driven by selection pressures exerted by the ancient 'cultivation regime', others attribute an indispensable role to conscious and knowledge-based selection as an imperative component of Neolithic Near Eastern plant domestication. Recent experimental work demonstrated that, contrary to commonly held views, deep seed burial as part of the ancient cultivation regime cannot be considered as a general selection pressure underlying the increased seed size of domesticated legumes compared with their wild ancestors. This is a robust conclusion since, in three out of the eight legume species studied from different world regions, there was no association between larger seed size and better seedling emergence from depth. We concur with the authors that these legume crops were most likely under various and multiple (often interacting) selection pressures under domestication, thereby causing the observed parallel/convergent evolution of their larger grain size. However, it is puzzling that these authors did not mention the ever-present common denominator in plant domestication, i.e. conscious human decision-making. In our view, the human 'Mind' and the 'Science of the Concrete' à la Lévi-Strauss deserved to be discussed as an integral component of plant domestication.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1917-1920
Number of pages4
JournalJournal of Experimental Botany
Volume65
Issue number8
DOIs
StatePublished - May 2014

Keywords

  • Automatic selection
  • Science of the Concrete
  • conscious selection
  • crop evolution
  • grain legumes domestication
  • unconscious selection

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