With the development of next-generation sequencing technology, the amount of date palm (Phoenix dactylifera
L.) genomic data has grown rapidly and yielded new insights into this species and its origins. Here, we review advances in understanding of the evolutionary history of the date palm, with a particular emphasis on what has been learned from the analysis of genomic data. We first record current genomic resources available for date palm including genome assemblies and resequencing data. We discuss new insights into its domestication and diversification history based on these improved genomic resources. We further report recent discoveries such as the existence of wild ancestral populations in remote locations of Oman and high differentiation between African and Middle Eastern populations. While genomic data are consistent with the view that domestication took place in the Gulf region, they suggest that the process was more complex involving multiple gene pools and possibly a secondary domestication. Many questions remain unanswered, especially regarding the genetic architecture of domestication and diversification. We provide a road map to future studies that will further clarify the domestication history of this iconic crop.
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