Research Topic

Ecology and Evolution of Plants under Domestication in the Neotropics

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Niche construction has emerged as an important area of research within ecology and evolution, and human or cultural niche construction helps explain how our species became dominant during the Holocene. Plant domestication, at both the landscape and population levels, is a fundamental part of cultural niche ...

Niche construction has emerged as an important area of research within ecology and evolution, and human or cultural niche construction helps explain how our species became dominant during the Holocene. Plant domestication, at both the landscape and population levels, is a fundamental part of cultural niche construction, since the species involved sustain human populations via the agroecologies and other land use systems that they become part of. In the New World, hundreds of plant species were domesticated in various degrees and three are major models for domestication studies: maize, beans and tomato. Likewise, most New World landscapes were domesticated in various degrees, from subtle changes in ecosystem composition to carefully engineered food production systems. This Research Topic provides an overview of work in the New World with special attention to non-model species and landscape domestication, using ethnobotanical, archaeological, population genetics and phylogeographic approaches. Research groups in Mesoamerica, the Andes, Amazonia and lowland South America present original studies and reviews with different research approaches and methods highlighting broad and specific evolutionary patterns under domestication in different socio-ecological contexts, both pre-historic and modern. This work demonstrates that domestication is an on-going process and that understanding a broad array of non-model systems may contribute to general construction of evolutionary theory, as well as the sustainable management of plant genetic resources.

The Research Topic includes researchers and scholars from different countries working in different plant species from herbs to trees in different ecosystems of the Neotropics. We include original studies and reviews from different research approaches and methods as an attempt to unify criteria and theory about evolutionary patterns under domestication in different socio-ecological contexts. The studies include archaeological, ethnobotanical, ecological, population genetics and phylogeographic perspectives analysing natural and human factors influencing natural and artificial selection operating on crop plant species, general patterns and trends, as well as possible processes of origin and diffusion of the experience of domesticating plants in the region. The studies reveal the broad spectrum of cases that potentially may conduct to reconstruct the classical hypotheses on domestication associated to agriculture and theories about origin and diffusion of civilization.


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