Ancient Chinese Literature Reveals Pathways of Eggplant Domestication

State Key Laboratory of Systematic and Evolutionary Botany, Institute of Botany, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing 100093, China.
Annals of Botany (Impact Factor: 3.65). 10/2008; 102(6):891-7. DOI: 10.1093/aob/mcn179
Source: PubMed


Changes in key traits occurring during the processes of plant domestication have long been subjects of debate. Only in the case of genetic analysis or with extensive plant remains can specific sets of changes be documented. Historical details of the plant domestication processes are rare and other evidence of morphological change can be difficult to obtain, especially for those vegetables that lack a substantial body of archaeological data. Botanical records chronicled in the ancient literature of established ancient civilizations, such as that of China, are invaluable resources for the study and understanding of the process of plant domestication. Here, the considerable body of ancient Chinese literature is used to explore the domestication process that has occurred with the eggplant (Solanum melongena), an important vegetable in Old World.
Information about eggplant domestication in the ancient Chinese literature was retrieved using a variety of methods. The information obtained was then sorted by taxon, examined and taxonomic identifications verified.
It was found that the earliest record of the eggplant documented in ancient Chinese literature was in a work from 59 bc. As far as is known, this is the earliest reliable and accurately dated record of eggplant in cultivation. The analysis reveals that the process of domestication of the eggplant in China involved three principal aspects of fruit quality: size, shape and taste. These traits were actively and gradually selected; fruit size changed from small to large, taste changed from not palatable to what was termed at the time sweetish, and that over time, a wider variety of fruit shapes was cultivated.
The results indicate that, in addition to data gleaned from archaeology and genetics, evidence as to changes in key traits occurring during the process of plant domestication and selective forces responsible for these changes can be traced through the ancient literature in some civilizations.

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    • "Interestingly, it has been proposed that eggplant was independently domesticated in multiple regions of tropical Asia. Several researchers have proposed possible multiple domestications in South and SE Asia (reviewed in Lester and Daunay, 2001; Wang et al., 2008). Meyer et al. (2012b) proposed centers in India, "
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    ABSTRACT: Crop domestication is often accompanied by changes in metabolite compositions that alter traits such as flavor, color, or other beneficial properties. Fruits of eggplants (Solanum melongena L.) and related species are abundant and diverse in pharmacologically interesting phenolic compounds, particularly hydroxycinnamic acid (HCA) conjugates such as the antioxidant caffeoylquinic acids (CQA) and HCA-polyamine amides (HCAA). To understand metabolite variability through the lens of natural and artificial selection, HPLC-DAD was used to generate phenolic profiles for 32 compounds in fruits from 93 accessions representing 9 Solanum species. Profiles were used for identification of species-level and infraspecific chemical patterns across both genetic distance and landscape. Sampling of plant lines included the undomesticated progenitor of eggplant and Asian landraces with a genetic background associated with three Asian regions near proposed separate centers of domestication to test whether chemical changes were convergent despite different origins. Results showed ten compounds were unique to species, and ten other compounds varied significantly in abundance among species. Five CQAs and three HCA-polyamine conjugates were more abundant in wild (undomesticated) versus domesticated eggplant, indicating that artificial selection may have led to reduced phenolic levels. No chemical abundance patterns were associated with site-origin. However, one genetically distinct lineage of geographically-restricted SE Asian eggplants (S. melongena subsp. ovigerum) had a higher HCAA content and diversity than other lineages, which is suggested to be related to artificial selection for small, firm fruit. Overall, patterns show that fruit size, palatability and texture were preferentially selected over health-beneficial phytochemical content during domestication of several nightshade crops. Copyright © 2015. Published by Elsevier Ltd.
    Full-text · Article · Mar 2015 · Phytochemistry
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    • "Each of these groups encompasses a considerable genetic diversity, as assessed by molecular markers (Prohens et al., 2005; Muñoz -Falcón et al., 2011; Tümbilen et al., 2011). As occurs with other Solanaceae crops domesticated for their fruits, like tomato (Solanum lycopersicum L.) or pepper (Capsicum spp.) (Ben Chaim et al., 2001; Paran and van der Knaap, 2007; Rodríguez et al., 2011), a wide diversity exists for fruit shape in eggplant (Nunome et al., 2001; Daunay, 2008; Wang et al., 2008), even within varietal groups (Prohens et al., 2005; Muñoz -Falcón et al., 2008). Small differences in eggplant fruit shape are relevant for breeders and may be determinant for the success or failure of a commercial cultivar. "
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    ABSTRACT: Detailed characterization of fruit shape in eggplant (Solanum melongena) is important for horticultur-ists and breeders. In fact, commercial varieties are classified according to their fruit shape. However,traditional morphological descriptors provide limited information on this complex attribute. Recently, asoftware tool (Tomato Analyzer) for the processing of scanned images of sections of tomato fruits has beendeveloped. Tomato Analyzer is adequate for phenomics studies of fruit shape, as it provides quantitativeand objective data for a large number of fruit morphology traits. We used Tomato Analyzer for evaluatingfruit shape in a collection of 21 accessions of eggplant from four varietal groups (Round, Listada de Gandía,Semi-long, and Long). For each accession we evaluated 20 fruits, for which we measured fruit weight,length, and width (manually), and 23 fruit shape parameters using the Tomato Analyzer. Significant dif-ferences among accessions have been found for all traits, except for Shoulders Height. For many traits,high values for the coefficient of genotypic variation (CVG) and broad-sense heritability (H2) have beenobtained, indicating that selection will be efficient. Significant differences have also been found amongvarietal groups for 20 out of the 26 traits, and for six of them each of the four varietal groups differedsignificantly from the others. Multivariate principal components analysis (PCA) shows that accessions ofeach of the four varietal groups plot together and in separate areas of the PCA graph, with the exceptionof some overlapping between Round and Listada de Gandía accessions. Discriminant analysis resulted in57.14% of the individual fruits being correctly assigned to their accession, and of those incorrectly classi-fied, 21.67% were correctly classified to their varietal group. The results obtained show that the TomatoAnalyzer image software tool is of great utility for phenomics studies of fruit shape in eggplant, which isof interest for characterization of germplasm and cultivars, and for selection and breeding.
    Full-text · Article · Dec 2013 · Scientia Horticulturae
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    • "The resulting selection of alleles from wild progenitors , many of which may have arisen as spontaneous mutations, led to dramatic changes in plant traits associated with the domestication syndrome (Hammer 1984), including increases in the size of edible organs such as fleshy fruit. Domestication-associated increases in fleshy fruit size occurred in diverse plant families such as the Cucurbitaceae (Nuñez-Palenius et al. 2008; Esteras et al. 2011; Paris et al. 2012), Solanaceae (Tanksley 2004; Paran and van der Knaap 2007; Wang et al. 2008; Meyer et al. 2012) and Rosaceae (Miller and Gross 2011). However, the understanding of the genetic changes that resulted in this fruit size increase between domesticates and their small-fruited wild relatives is most advanced in tomato (Solanum lycopersicum L.) (Grandillo et al. 1999; Brewer et al. 2007; Paran and van der Knaap 2007; Causse et al. 2007; Gonzalo and van der Knaap 2008). "
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    ABSTRACT: Striking increases in fruit size distinguish cultivated descendants from small-fruited wild progenitors for fleshy fruited species such as Solanum lycopersicum (tomato) and Prunus spp. (peach, cherry, plum, and apricot). The first fruit weight gene identified as a result of domestication and selection was the tomato FW2.2 gene. Members of the FW2.2 gene family in corn (Zea mays) have been named CNR (Cell Number Regulator) and two of them exert their effect on organ size by modulating cell number. Due to the critical roles of FW2.2/CNR genes in regulating cell number and organ size, this family provides an excellent source of candidates for fruit size genes in other domesticated species, such as those found in the Prunus genus. A total of 23 FW2.2/CNR family members were identified in the peach genome, spanning the eight Prunus chromosomes. Two of these CNRs were located within confidence intervals of major quantitative trait loci (QTL) previously discovered on linkage groups 2 and 6 in sweet cherry (Prunus avium), named PavCNR12 and PavCNR20, respectively. An analysis of haplotype, sequence, segregation and association with fruit size strongly supports a role of PavCNR12 in the sweet cherry linkage group 2 fruit size QTL, and this QTL is also likely present in sour cherry (P. cerasus). The finding that the increase in fleshy fruit size in both tomato and cherry associated with domestication may be due to changes in members of a common ancestral gene family supports the notion that similar phenotypic changes exhibited by independently domesticated taxa may have a common genetic basis. Electronic supplementary material The online version of this article (doi:10.1007/s11032-013-9872-6) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
    Full-text · Article · Aug 2013 · Molecular Breeding
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