Plant domestication versus crop evolution: A conceptual framework for cereals and grain legumes

Shahal Abbo*, Ruth Pinhasi van-Oss, Avi Gopher, Yehoshua Saranga, Itai Ofner, Zvi Peleg

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

230 Scopus citations


'Domestication syndrome' (DS) denotes differences between domesticated plants and their wild progenitors. Crop plants are dynamic entities; hence, not all parameters distinguishing wild progenitors from cultigens resulted from domestication. In this opinion article, we refine the DS concept using agronomic, genetic, and archaeobotanical considerations by distinguishing crucial domestication traits from traits that probably evolved post-domestication in Near Eastern grain crops. We propose that only traits showing a clear domesticated-wild dimorphism represent the pristine domestication episode, whereas traits showing a phenotypic continuum between wild and domesticated gene pools mostly reflect post-domestication diversification. We propose that our approach may apply to other crop types and examine its implications for discussing the timeframe of plant domestication and for modern plant science and breeding.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)351-360
Number of pages10
JournalTrends in Plant Science
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 2014


  • Crop evolution traits
  • Crucial domestication traits
  • Domestication episode
  • Domestication syndrome traits
  • Episodic versus protracted domestication


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