A domestication history of dynamic adaptation and genomic deterioration in sorghum

Oliver Smith, William V Nicholson, Logan Kistler, Emma Mace, Alan Clapham, Pamela Rose, Chris Stevens, Roselyn L Ware, Siva Samavedam, Guy Barker, David Jordan, Dorian Q Fuller, Robin G Allaby

Published: 3 June 2018
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The evolution of domesticated cereals was a complex interaction of shifting selection pressures and repeated introgressions. Genomes of archaeological crops have the potential to reveal these dynamics without being obscured by recent breeding or introgression. We report a temporal series of archaeogenomes of the crop sorghum (Sorghum bicolor) from a single locality in Egyptian Nubia. These data indicate no evidence for the effects of a domestication bottleneck but instead suggest a steady decline in genetic diversity over time coupled with an accumulating mutation load. Dynamic selection pressures acted sequentially on architectural and nutritional domestication traits, and adaptation to the local environment. Later introgression between sorghum races allowed exchange of adaptive traits and achieved mutual genomic rescue through an ameliorated mutation load. These results reveal a model of domestication in which genomic adaptation and deterioration was not focused on the initial stages of domestication but occurred throughout the history of cultivation.