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Plant breeders have been working to improve plant varieties for several thousand years - long before breeding existed as a formal discipline. Historically, early farmers and agriculturists realized the value of natural variation in plant characteristics - what modern breeders now know are due to genetic diversity - and leveraged this variability by saving and planting seed from plants that exhibited desired characteristics. Some of the characteristics selected included larger and more seeds, shorter plants, sweeter fruits and other aspects that improved quality and quantity. In fact, most, if not all, modern food crops including wheat, maize, carrot and tomato bear little resemblance to their wild ancestors - and you probably wouldn't want to eat them! Plant breeders improve the quality and performance of existing field and horticultural crops through the development of new varieties. They aim to develop improved characteristics - ranging from environmental benefits, like drought tolerance or disease resistance, to consumer benefits, like improved nutrition and flavor.
Can you guess the modern-day varieties of these ancient crops?