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Many non-crop grasses bear salt

Although breeding salt-tolerance in crops is tricky, the trait has evolved many times in grasses — the family to which most crops belong.

Tom Bennett at the Australian National University in Canberra and his colleagues examined the family tree of 2,684 grasses and found that salt tolerance had independently evolved 76 times, indicating that its establishment does not require exceptional circumstances.

The authors suggest that the limited genetic diversity in modern crops could be a reason why breeding salt-tolerant varietals of cultivated plants has been troublesome.

Biol. Lett. 9, 20130029 (2013)

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Many non-crop grasses bear salt. Nature 495, 144 (2013).

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