Shattering No More: Experimental Evolution of Non-Shattering Fruits in Crop Domestication

ID: 613 / 300

Category: Abstract

Track: Pending

Proposed Symposium Title: Shattering No More: Experimental Evolution of Non-Shattering Fruits in Crop Domestication


Rubén Milla1

Beatriz Pablo-Carmona1

Sergio Nuñez-Castillo1

Affiliations: 1 Departamento de Biología, Geología, Física y Química Inorgánica. Universidad Rey Juan Carlos, Madrid, Spain.


Agricultural crops have played a pivotal role in human culture and evolution. The transition from wild plants to fully domesticated crops has been marked by the development of unique traits. One such critical trait is the non-shattering of fruits, where fruits either do not disarticulate or remain enclosed at maturity. This evolutionary shift towards non-shattering was a critical step, allowing early farmers to maximize their seed harvest before substantial losses to the ground occurred.

Non-shattering is prevalent in the domestication history of major crops and serves as a distinct marker differentiating wild and domesticated plant remains at archaeological sites. However, the specific selective pressures that led to the fixation of this crucial trait have remained elusive. To address this knowledge gap, we conducted an experimental evolution study on populations of Arabidopsis thaliana composed of a mixture of shattering and non-shattering genotypes.

In our study we mimicked various harvesting techniques employed by early agriculturalists, such as sickle harvesting – hypothesized to encourage domestication – and methods like beating into baskets – hypothesized to deter domestication –. In this contribution, we will share the results of our investigation, revealing how silique shattering evolved across 18 replicate populations over three generations of experimental evolution under distinct harvesting scenarios. This research sheds light on the driving forces behind the emergence of non-shattering in agricultural crops and provides valuable insights into the early stages of crop domestication.

Symposia selection: 175, 8, 63

Key words: experimental evolution, microevolution, domestication, Arabidopsis thaliana, seed dispersal