In DepthAgriculture

Plant genomics unearths Africa's ‘fertile crescent’

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Science  03 May 2019:
Vol. 364, Issue 6439, pp. 422-423
DOI: 10.1126/science.364.6439.422

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An early cradle of agriculture existed around West Africa's Niger River Basin, a flurry of plant genomic studies is showing. Several of the continent's traditional food crops got their start there: a cereal called pearl millet and Africa's own version of rice. Now, a report out this week in Science Advances adds yams to the list of African crops domesticated thousands of years ago in the same region. A drying climate may have spurred the move to farming. The recent findings highlight reservoirs of genes in wild plants that could be exploited to boost the productivity and disease resistance of the domesticated varieties.