, Volume 37, Issue 1, pp 77–81

Aspects of unconscious selection and the evolution of domesticated plants

  • Charles B. Heiser

DOI: 10.1007/BF00037227

Cite this article as:
Heiser, C.B. Euphytica (1988) 37: 77. doi:10.1007/BF00037227


Unconscious selection may be defined as non-intentional human selection. The term was introduced by Darwin and its modern concept was developed by C.D. Darlington. Unconscious selection, or automatic selection as it is sometimes called, could have been responsible for most of the differences that distinguish domesticated seed crops from their wild progenitors, including loss of natural dispersal mechanisms, even and rapid seed germination, larger propagules, simultaneous ripening, and loss of mechanical protection as well as changes in the breeding system. Some differences, such as those in seed or fruit colors, may have developed from conscious selection at an early time. For unconscious selection to operate in the development of domesticated plants there would have to have been a deliberate planting of seeds by people.

Key words

Unconscious selection automatic selection evolution of domesticated plants origin of agriculture Darwin 

Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 1988

Authors and Affiliations

  • Charles B. Heiser
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of BiologyIndiana University BloomingtonU.S.A.

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