More questions than answers as mystery of domestication deepens

A recent interdisciplinary conference that led to the publication of a special issue of PNAS on domestication raised more questions than it answered. Washington University in St. Louis scientists Fiona Marshall and Ken Olsen, who participated in the conference and contributed to the special issue, discuss some of the key questions that have been raised about this pivotal event in human history.

The story of animal domestication retold

A review of recent research on the domestication of large herbivores for “The Modern View of Domestication,” a special feature of PNAS, suggests that neither intentional breeding nor genetic isolation were as significant as traditionally thought. 

Rice domestiction confiirmed genetically

Photo courtesy USDASchaal rice one.Biologists from Washington University in St. Louis and their collaborators from Taiwan have examined the DNA sequence family tree of rice varieties and have determined that the crop was domesticated independently at least twice in various Asian locales. Jason Londo, Washington University in Arts & Sciences biology doctoral candidate, and his adviser, Barbara A. Schaal, Ph.D., Washington University Spencer T. Olin Professor of Biology in Arts & Sciences, ran genetic tests of more than 300 types of rice, including both wild and domesticated, and found genetic markers that reveal the two major rice types grown today were first grown by humans in India and Myanmar and Thailand (Oryza sativa indica) and in areas in southern China (Oryza sativa japonica). More…