The food plants we eat every day haven’t always looked the way they do now. Through the process of domestication, humans have selected plant populations for traits that we find desirable, leading to crop plants that may be drastically different from their wild ancestors. On today’s episode of Perpetual Notion Machine, ethnobotanists Eve Emshwiller and Alex McAlvay join host Serena Zhao for an exploration of different forms of domestication from plants to ecosystems, and the importance of genetic diversity in crop species.
Our guests have a recent paper “Brassica rapa Domestication: Untangling Wild and Feral Forms and Convergence of Crop Morphotypes” that examines the wild ancestors of turnips and relatives. Dr. Emshwiller is an Associate Professor of Botany at UW-Madison, and Dr. McAlvay is an Assistant Curator in the Institute of Economic Botany at the New York Botanical Garden.
Tune in to find out what dogs have in common with broccoli, and more!
Images courtesy of: Clark, Jim (U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service) on Wikimedia Commons/USDA Lance Cheung, via CC 2.0