The domestication of cereal crops
By 10 million years ago, the major cereal groups had diverged from each other and were distributed across the world. Many of these grassy plants have remained recalcitrant to domestication, but thanks to their unusual genomic architectures, a few of the larger grained species were able to adapt to cultivation during the early Neolithic period to become our most important crop plants. The major cereal crops in the Near East were the wheat/barley/rye groups, which included many polyploid hybrids, especially among the wheats. In eastern Asia, rice and millets were the first cereals to be farmed, while in Africa sorghum and several millet species were cultivated. The major American cereal was maize, which was initially domesticated from teosinte to form small-cob maize in a relatively rapid process that was followed by several millennia of slow increases in cob length that eventually resulted in the high yielding crop of today.
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