Yam domestication study (Crop Evolution Lab, Kyoto University)
The Crop Evolution Laboratory at the University of Kyoto, Japan, is now led by Dr Ryohei Terauchi, who has had a strong interest in Dioscorea yams for many years. The laboratory recently collaborated with researchers in Africa to coauthor a paper on the evolution of "White Guinea Yam", Dioscorea rotundata.
This domesticated species now appears to be a hybrid between two wild species from very different habitats (rainforest and savannah). This raises interesting questions about the conditions that led to these species coming into contact with each other (sympatry), crossing, and the offspring attracting the interest of people.
The study is based on very modern analyses of full genome data, and raises many "when, where and how" questions of ethnobotanical and historical interest.