People, Plants and Genes: The Story of Crops and Humanity

People, Plants and Genes: The Story of Crops and Humanity

Denis J. Murphy

Language: English

Pages: 432

ISBN: 0199207143

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub


This book provides a comprehensive overview of the complex story of human-plant interactions, from the hunter-gatherers of the Palaeolithic Era, through to the 21st century and the molecular genetic manipulation of crops. It links the latest advances in molecular genetics with the science and history of plant domestication, the evolution of plant breeding, and the implications of this new knowledge for both the agriculture of today and the future.
Modern societies still rely on plants for most of their food needs, not to mention clothing, shelter, medicines and tools. This special relationship has tied together people and their plants in mutual dependence for over 50,000 years. Yet despite these millennia of intimate contact, people have only gone on to domesticate and cultivate a few dozen of the tens of thousands of edible plants available. Thanks to the latest genomic studies, we can now begin to explain how, when, and where some of the most important crops came to be domesticated, and the crucial role of plant genetics and climatic change in these processes. Indeed, it was their unique genetic organisations that ultimately determined which plants eventually became crops, rather than any conscious decisions by their human cultivators.

The book is primarily aimed at geneticists, molecular biologists, biotechnologists, and plant breeders who require a detailed and up-to-date account of modern crop genetics and genomic research and its wider significance for agriculture. However, the accessible style will appeal to a wider readership of agronomists, archaeologists, and even historians, who wish to explore the many interactions that have shaped the often crucial relationships between plants and human societies.

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