Loss of seed shattering is a key trait in crop domestication, particularly for grain crops. For wild plants, seed shattering is a crucial mechanism to achieve greater fitness, although in the agricultural context, this mechanism reduces harvesting efficiency, especially under dry conditions. Loss of seed shattering was acquired independently in different monocotyledon and dicotyledon crop species by ‘convergent phenotypic evolution’, leading to similar low dehiscent and indehiscent phenotypes. Here, the main aim is to review the current knowledge about seed shattering in crops, in order to highlight the tissue modifications that underlie the convergent phenotypic evolution of reduced shattering in different types of fruit, from the silique of Brassicaceae
species, to the pods of legumes and spikes of cereals. Emphasis is given to legumes, with consideration of recent data obtained for the common bean. The current review also discusses to what extent convergent phenotypes arose from parallel changes at the histological and/or molecular levels. For this reason, an overview is included of the main findings relating to the genetic control of seed shattering in the model species Arabidopsis thaliana
and in other important crops.
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