Plants and animals have always been the sources of food for the human race. The daily practice of hunting, fishing and the gathering of various plant parts underwent constant changes as the nomadic life was gradually replaced by a settled existence. This change was of decisive importance, as it paved the way for the domestication of plants and animals. During the process of domestication favourable traits are selected, such as yield, nutritional value and adaptability, all with an aim to ensure the nutrition requirements of mankind. In early times the selection for desirable traits was mostly instinctive, but over the course of millennia plant breeding gradually became a highly conscious process. As the available techniques developed, the level of knowledge required for selection also increased. This paper aims to summarise the milestones achieved over the last two centuries; it is also a tribute to the 80-year-old Professor van Staden, the botanist and plant physiologist who has deservedly won international renown for his outstanding work on the preservation of biological diversity.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Plant Science