Wang, Jin-Xiu , Gao, Tian-Gang , Knapp, Sandra .
Ancient Chinese literature reveals pathways of eggplant (Solanum melongena L., Solanaceae) domestication.
Changes in key traits occurring during the processes of plant domestication have often been subjects of continuous debate. Only in the case of genetic analysis or with extensive plant remains can we document specific sets of changes. Historical details of the plant domestication process are rare, and evidence of morphological change can be difficult to obtain, especially for those vegetables that lack a substantial body of archaeological data. Botanical records chronicled in the ancient literature of established ancient civilizations, such as that of China, are invaluable resources for the study and understanding of the process of plant domestication. Here, we use the considerable body of ancient Chinese literature to explore the domestication process that has occurred with the eggplant (Solanum melongena), an important vegetable in Old World. Our analysis reveals that the process of domestication of the eggplant in China involved three principal aspects of fruit quality: size, shape and taste. These traits were selected for actively and gradually; fruit size changed from small to large, taste changed from not palatable to what was termed at the time sweetish, and that over time, a wider varieties of fruit shapes were cultivated. The results indicate that, in addition to data gleaned from archaeology and genetics, evidence as to changes in key traits occurring during the process of plant domestication and selective forces responsible for these changes can be traced through the ancient literature in some civilizations.
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1 - Institute of Botany, Chinese Academy of Sciences, State Key Laboratory of Systematic and Evolutionary Botany, Beijing, 100093, China
2 - Natural History Museum, Department of Botany, Cromwell Road, London, SW7 5BD, England
Presentation Type: Oral Paper:Papers for BSA Sections
Location: Magpie A/Cliff Lodge - Level B
Date: Tuesday, July 28th, 2009
Time: 2:30 PM