Wild almonds gone wild: revisiting Darwin’s statement on the origin of peaches
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- Yazbek, M.M. & Al-Zein, M.S. Genet Resour Crop Evol (2014) 61: 1319. doi:10.1007/s10722-014-0113-6
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There is a general consensus that cultivated almond was domesticated in western Asia while cultivated peach was domesticated in China; however, the lack of a comprehensive phylogeny of cultivated peaches and almonds and their wild relatives has until recently rendered the controversy over the origin of these plants, their interrelationships and their domestication difficult to decipher. This shortcoming has made Darwin’s hypothesis that peaches are almonds modified in a marvelous manner difficult to test. In this work, Darwin’s hypothesis is revisited based on the first comprehensive molecular and morphological phylogeny of almonds, peaches and their wild relatives. The analysis reveals that cultivated peaches and cultivated almonds are closely related but not sister species. It also reveals that Darwin’s hypothesis was not entirely wrong, particularly considering the species concept he was employing.