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Domestication of Fruits

D(caps)omestication is a process of bringing wild species of fruits under human management. The prehistoric human, chose and domesticated the fruits based on their needs since antiquity and it was the first step in the development of cultivated plants including fruits. Domestication of fruits involves selection of superior species and elite clones, their propagation, cultivation, pruning and training, storage and processing. The fruit cultivation originated during 4000 to 3000 BCE. The date palm is depicted in pre dynastic drawings of Egypt. The date palm, olive, grape, almond, fig and pomegranate are the fruit crops domesticated first. The temperate pome fruits apple, pear, quince, medlar and stone fruits apricot, cherry, peach and plum were domesticated by antiquity. The citrus fruits were domesticated early in China and the citron reached the West. The Asian tropical fruits mango and banana as well as American avocado, papaya and pineapple were domesticated in the prehistoric period. Domestication of fruit crops resulted from selection of elite natural variants with further improvement arising from recombinants produced by natural intercrosses involving selected types . The many genetic changes like breakdown of dioecy, loss of self incompatibility, parthenocarpy and seedlessness, polyploidy, loss of toxic substance are associated with domestication of fruits. The mutations inducing hermaphroditism is associated with domestication in dioecious fruits strawberry, grape and papaya. 

Similarly fruit color mutations in apples are associated with domestication. Recently in America cranberries were domesticated in the 19th century although they have been collected in North America since colonial times. The kiwifruit is an indigenous fruit of China and appreciated there since the 8th century but never cultivated in china. 

It is a dioecious vine fruit introduced to New Zealand domesticated first in the 20th century. Two clones Hayward (pistillate) and Bruno (Staminate) were selected from introduced seeds and cultivation techniques developed in New Zealand and Kiwifruit became the world fruit crop in less than 25 years. The domesticates of both Cranberry and Kiwifruit are little changed from their wild forms and the unique combinations of traits are maintained by vegetative propagation- cutting in case of Cranberry and grafting in case of Kiwifruit. Like other fruit crops selection in combination with traits fixing by vegetative propagation is breeding technique followed in these two recently domesticated fruits.

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