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Reciprocal insights into adaptation from agricultural and evolutionary studies in tomato


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Although traditionally separated by different aims and methodologies, research on agricultural and evolutionary problems shares a common goal of understanding the mechanisms underlying functionally important traits. As such, research in both fields offers potential complementary and reciprocal insights. Here, we discuss adaptive stress responses (specifically to water stress) as an example of potentially fruitful research reciprocity, where agricultural research has clearly produced advances that could benefit evolutionary studies, while evolutionary studies offer approaches and insights underexplored in crop studies. We focus on research on Solanum species that include the domesticated tomato and its wild relatives. Integrated approaches to understanding ecological adaptation are particularly attractive in tomato and its wild relatives: many presumptively adaptive phenotypic differences characterize wild species, and the physiological and mechanistic basis of many relevant traits and environmental responses has already been examined in the context of cultivated tomato and some wild species. We highlight four specific instances where these reciprocal insights can be combined to better address questions that are fundamental both to agriculture and evolution.
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Keywords: adaptation; agriculture; ecological genetics; gene structure and function; molecular evolution; population genetics – empirical; quantitative genetics

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: September 1, 2010

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