Domesticated plant taxa cannot be regarded as evolutionarily discrete from their wild relatives. Most domesticated plant taxa mate with wild relatives somewhere in the world, and gene flow from crop taxa may have a substantial impact on the evolution of wild populations. In a literature review of the world's 13 most important food crops, we show that 12 of these crops hybridize with wild relatives in some part of their agricultural distribution. We use population genetic theory to predict the evolutionary consequences of gene flow from crops to wild plants and discuss two applied consequences of crop-to-wild gene flow–the evolution of aggressive weeds and the extinction of rare species. We suggest ways of assessing the likelihood of hybridization, introgression, and the potential for undesirable gene flow from crops into weeds or rare species.


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  • Article Type: Review Article
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