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This review assesses the genetic gains made by plant breeders since domestication …


Home » Biology Articles » Agriculture » Plant Production » Domestication to Crop Improvement: Genetic Resources for Sorghum and Saccharum (Andropogoneae) » Introduction

Introduction
- Domestication to Crop Improvement: Genetic Resources for Sorghum and Saccharum (Andropogoneae)

Crop plants were first cultivated around 10 000 years ago. However,crop domestication and development began much more recently(Doggett, 1970). Innumerable varieties, races and cultivarsof agricultural plants have been developed to support humanand animal demand for food, fibre and building materials. ThePoaceae are an important global source of dietary protein, carbohydratesand other nutrients. Sorghum [Sorghum bicolor (L.) Moench] isthe fourth most important cereal crop behind wheat, rice andmaize, and is grown throughout the arid and semi-arid tropics(Smith and Frederiksen, 2000). Sugarcane (Saccharum officinarumL.) is the leading sugar-producing crop globally and is grownthroughout tropical and subtropical parts of the world (Cordeiro et al., 2006b).Sorghum and sugarcane are each other's closest relatives amongcultivated crops. Their evolutionary divergence is estimatedas occurring as recently as 5 million years ago, with maizehaving separated 15–20 million years ago (Paterson et al., 2004).Intergeneric hybrids between the two groups have been reported,reinforcing their close relationship (Bowers et al., 2003).Both are more recent domesticates than the other major grasscrops and despite ongoing breeding programmes using diversegermplasm, comparatively little of the genetic potential ofthese taxa and their wild crop relatives has been captured bybreeding programmes to date.

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