Top 7 domesticated plants that used to be wild

Genetically modified foods are considered an achievement of modern science, but their emergence became possible not only thanks to scientists from well-funded laboratories. Most of the garden plants known to mankind have already been genetically improved many years ago. Many of our favorite fruits and vegetables are fundamentally different from their wild progenitors. How did these plants look like before? Look in our material.

Introducing the top 7 domesticated plants that used to be wild and exist thanks to the genetic engineering of the past.


  • 7. Almond
  • 6. Watermelon
  • 5. Bananas
  • 4. Corn
  • 3. Strawberry
  • 2. Coffee
  • 1. Wheat

7. Almond

The almond that we eat today is a domesticated variant obtained from severalspecies of wild almonds. Wild almonds are bitter, thanks to the presence of amygdaline, and during decomposition this substance forms poisonous hydrocyanic acid.

Obviously, people chose and crossed the sweetest varieties of bitter almonds until the nuts became edible. This is a real feat, considering that consuming a dozen toxic nuts will kill one who tests almonds for fitness in food.

6. Watermelon

Modern watermelon is one of the most heavily modified fruits in human history. The first domesticated varieties appeared south of the Sahara.

Watermelons found in the wild, consisted mainly of seeds and weighed no more than 80 grams. Their modern "descendants" consist 91.5% of the water and weigh from 2 kg and more.

Appetizing red color of the fruit is explained by the overproduction of the compound called "lycopene".This feature is deliberately cultivated in watermelons. The analysis of the watermelon genome also shows that domestication has reduced its natural resistance to diseases.

5. Bananas

Wild bananas are not like their "domesticated" brethren. They are tiny, little edible, hard, and they have a lot of seeds. But sometimes there are mutant variants without seeds.

People had to work with this particular mutation for at least 6500 years to get a variety of seedless bananas.

4. Corn

Ancient Mexicans began to breed selectively "queen of fields" about 10 thousand years ago.

This plant suddenly and mysteriously appeared in archaeological records;the secrets of its development have been unraveled only recently by molecular genetic analysis. The most important change was the suppression of branching of the stems. As a result, the plant produces fewer ears, but these cobs are huge, with long rows of grains.

3. Strawberry

Sweet and juicy strawberries appeared relatively recently. It was cultivated only in the 1750s.

Mathematician and engineer Amadeus Francois Frezier brought a strawberry from Chile to Europe in the 18th century. Part of the plants Frese sent to the Parisian Botanical Garden. They were planted next to virgin strawberries, imported from North America. Garden strawberries( strawberries) were obtained by crossing these two species.

2. Coffee

Coffee is another participant in the ranking of plants created by man. It is included in the list of man-improved plants because there are so many varieties created solely to satisfy our craving for new tastes.

The first evidence of the use of coffee beverage dates back to the 15th century. He was drunk in the Sufi monasteries of Yemen.

Currently, there are about 10 different types of coffee tree. And this despite the fact that there are different varieties within each species. At the same time, all modern, genetically modified varieties originate from the coffee tree of Arabica. And it in itself is a hybrid of mysterious origin.

1. Wheat

Tops the list of the most popular domesticated plants. To its cultivation began at the very beginning of neolithization.

An unpleasant feature of wild wheat is that its grain can not be harvested. Immediately after ripening, they crumble.

Archaeologists have found ancient spikelets of wheat and data of their analysis indicate that in the period from 10 thousand to 6.5 thousand years ago the plant was gradually domesticated. The most important achievement of targeted selection is an increase in the percentage of grains with a gene that provides resistance to shedding.