Invasive Species Compendium

Detailed coverage of invasive species threatening livelihoods and the environment worldwide

Abstract

How the apple escaped cultivation in North America.

Abstract

Domesticated plants have been transported around the globe through their association with humans and have undergone changes in response to their new environments. In many regions, farmers and, later, plant breeders have developed local landraces to deal with the new conditions or to satisfy the culinary needs of consumers, showing the versatility of these plants and the ingenuity of plant breeders, both ancient and modern. However, in some cases, plants leave behind their human associations and become feral in either the crop fields or natural landscape of the new region. The evolution of ferality has been studied in some crop systems, with many advances made in our understanding of annual crop ferality (e.g., Burger, Lee, & Ellstrand, 2006; Hegde et al., 2006). In contrast, very little is known about the genetics of feral perennial crops, and the study by Cronin, Kron, and Husband (2020) in this issue of Molecular Ecology sheds new light on this type of evolution, revealing the remarkable ability of domesticated apple (Malus domestica) to thrive and reproduce in North America without genetic input from local species.