Amaranthus

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Abstract

Amaranths were a fundamental crop of pre-Columbian times and currently are an attractive alternative for crop production in dry and semi-dry areas where major crops perform poorly. To be competitive, amaranth cultivars should be improved on traits where other crops have made significant gains. Some of these traits may be found today or may be selected in the future in their very successful relatives, the Amaranthus weeds. This chapter attempts to present the research conducted on amaranth weeds in a way thought useful for amaranth breeders. Emphasis is placed on gene flow research as an important aspect when considering the availability of interspecific gene pools. We discuss the use and findings with early molecular marker technologies, and we explore the possibilities presented by the increasing genomic resources being generated with both domesticated and non-domesticated Amaranthus species. Also, a brief section is included discussing the evolution of herbicide resistance in Amaranthus weeds, and its potential relevance to the domesticated species.