This book provides a comprehensive overview of the complex story of human-plant interactions, from the hunter-gatherers of the Palaeolithic Era, through to the 21st century and the molecular genetic manipulation of crops. It links the latest advances in molecular genetics with the science and history of plant domestication, the evolution of plant breeding, and the implications of this new knowledge for both the agriculture of today and the future.
Modern societies still rely on plants for most of their food needs, not to mention clothing, shelter, medicines and tools. This special relationship has tied together people and their plants in mutual dependence for over 50,000 years. Yet despite these millennia of intimate contact, people have only gone on to domesticate and cultivate a few dozen of the tens of thousands of edible plants available.
Thanks to the latest genomic studies, we can now begin to explain how, when, and where some of the most important crops came to be domesticated, and the crucial role of plant genetics and climatic change in these processes. Indeed, it was their unique genetic organisations that ultimately determined which plants eventually became crops, rather than any conscious decisions by their human cultivators.
PEOPLE AND PLANTS: TWO HUNDRED MILLENNIA OF COEVOLUTION; 1. Early human societies and their plants; 2. Plant management and agriculture; 3. How some people became farmers; CROPS AND THEIR GENETICS: 90 MILLION YEARS OF EVOLUTION; 4. Plant genomes; 5. Fluid genomes, uncertain species, and the genetics of crop domestication; 6. The domestication of cereal crops; 7. The domestication of non-cereal crops; PEOPLE, PLANTS, AND FARMING IN PREHISTORIC TIMES: TEN MILLENNIA OF CLIMATIC AND SOCIAL CHANGE; 8. People and the emergence of crops; 9. Agriculture: a mixed blessing; 10. Evolution of agro-urban cultures I: the Near East; 11. Evolution of agro-urban cultures II: East and South Asia; 12. Evolution of agro-urban cultures III: Africa, Europe and the Americas; PEOPLE AND PLANTS IN HISTORIC TIMES: GLOBALISATION OF AGRICULTURE AND THE RISE OF SCIENCE; 13. Crop management in the Classical and Medieval Periods; 14. Agricultural improvement and the rise of crop breeding; 15. Imperial Botany and the early scientific breeders; 16. Agricultural Improvement in modern times; 17. The future of agriculture and humanity
...but urge you to acquire it for edification and enjoyment. Denis Murphy is a co-evolutionist, raising serious matters currently affecting humankind, and this book should be accessible to all those interested in humanity and crop plants...I hope that this solo effort will encourage you to become a fan of DJM. J. T. Walker Experimental Agriculture ...this book can safely be recommended as much more than just an up-to-date introduction to a topic fundamental to understanding humanity's past and critical to our species'continued survival. June 2008, Antiquity, Vol. 82, No 316.