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Research article2022Peer reviewedOpen access

Molecular genetic variation of animals and plants under domestication

Andersson, L.; Purugganan, M.


Domesticated plants and animals played crucial roles as models for evolutionary change by means of natural selection and for establishing the rules of inheritance, originally proposed by Charles Darwin and Gregor Mendel, respectively. Here, we review progress that has been made during the last 35 y in unraveling the molecular genetic variation underlying the stunning phenotypic diversity in crops and domesticated animals that inspired Mendel and Darwin. We notice that numerous domestication genes, crucial for the domestication process, have been identified in plants, whereas animal domestication appears to have a polygenic background with no obvious "domestication genes" involved. Although model organisms, such as Drosophila and Arabidopsis, have replaced domesticated species as models for basic research, the latter are still outstanding models for evolutionary research because phenotypic change in these species represents an evolutionary process over thousands of years. A consequence of this is that some alleles contributing to phenotypic diversity have evolved by accumulating multiple changes in the same gene. The continued molecular characterization of crops and farm animals with ever sharper tools is essential for future food security.


crops; domestic animals; domestication; genetics; Mendel

Published in

Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
2022, Volume: 119, number: 30, article number: e2122150119
Publisher: National Academy of Sciences

    UKÄ Subject classification

    Biochemistry and Molecular Biology
    Genetics and Breeding

    Publication identifier


    Permanent link to this page (URI)