Research ArticleAGRICULTURE

Yam genomics supports West Africa as a major cradle of crop domestication

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Science Advances  01 May 2019:
Vol. 5, no. 5, eaaw1947
DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.aaw1947


While there has been progress in our understanding of the origin and history of agriculture in sub-Saharan Africa, a unified perspective is still lacking on where and how major crops were domesticated in the region. Here, we investigated the domestication of African yam (Dioscorea rotundata), a key crop in early African agriculture. Using whole-genome resequencing and statistical models, we show that cultivated yam was domesticated from a forest species. We infer that the expansion of African yam agriculture started in the Niger River basin. This result, alongside with the origins of African rice and pearl millet, supports the hypothesis that the vicinity of the Niger River was a major cradle of African agriculture.

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