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Review article - Peer-reviewed, 2023

Evolutionary dynamics and adaptive benefits of deleterious mutations in crop gene pools

Dwivedi, Sangam L.; Heslop-Harrison, Pat; Spillane, Charles; McKeown, Peter C.; Edwards, David; Goldman, Irwin; Ortiz, Rodomiro


Deleterious mutations are common in plant genomes and present both challenges and opportunities for domesticated crops.

While many deleterious mutations can negatively impact crop performance, some deleterious mutations are associated with breeding-relevant phenomena, such as heterosis, genetic variation, and key loss-of-function domestication traits that underpin crop production. Breeding may hasten the accumulation of deleterious variants.

Crop species vary in their pattern and distribution of deleterious mutations, and differences are noted among mating systems, ploidy levels, and propagation systems. Current efforts focus on predicting functional consequences of deleterious mutations on a genome-wide scale and comparing the effects across species.

Strategies for removal of deleterious variants with techniques such as gene editing may facilitate breeding and accelerate the redomestication of crops from wild species.


crop improvement; deleterious variants; genome editing; genomic prediction; HapMaps; mating system; propagation; selective sweeps; wild relatives

Published in

Trends in Plant Science
2023, Volume: 28, number: 6, pages: 685-697

    SLU Authors

    Sustainable Development Goals

    SDG2 Zero hunger

    UKÄ Subject classification

    Genetics and Breeding
    Plant Biotechnology
    Agricultural Science

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