, Volume 39, Issue 2, pp 191-199

Founder effect in crop-plant evolution

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Seed-crop plants apparently originated from a limited number of mutants in which seed dispersal was changed from that found in nondomesticated populations. Seed nonshattering in cultivated plants may be controlled by a single gene or a small number of genes. Allopolyploid crop plants were derived from a limited number of interspecific hybridizations followed by chromosome doubling. The consequence of this founder effect is a narrow genetic variability in the crop population compared to its wild progenitor. Natural hybridization between the two is prevented by various isolating mechanisms, and gene flow, if it exists, is apparently more effective in the direction from the cultivated to the wild populations. Founder effect in crop-plant evolution indicates the value and the breeding potential of the genetic variability remaining in its wild relatives.