This review of plant population genetics focuses on the genetic foundations of the processes that have led to documentable improvements in cultivated plants since the earliest domestications took place perhaps 13,000 years ago. Nearly all human civilizations have depended heavily on inbreeding plants (particularly wheat, barley, soybeans and other inbreeding legumes), as well as outbreeding vegetatively propagated species (white potatoes, yams) as their dietary standbys. The principal exception is maize (corn), an annual seed-produced outbreeder in nature. It is noteworthy that maize joined wheat, rice, and barley as a truly major crop worldwide only after its conversion to self-pollination combined with hybridization between favorably interacting inbred lines increased yield of maize several-fold in the twentieth century.


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  • Article Type: Review Article
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