Vavilov center

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China, Hindustan, Central Asia, Asia Minor, Mediterranean, Abyssinia, Central and South America

A center of origin is a geographical area where a group of organisms, either domesticated or wild, first developed its distinctive properties.[1] They are also considered centers of diversity. Centers of origin were first identified in 1924 by Nikolai Vavilov.


Locating the origin of crop plants is basic to plant breeding. This allows one to locate wild relatives, related species, and new genes (especially dominant genes, which may provide resistance to diseases). Knowledge of the origins of crop plants is important in order to avoid genetic erosion, the loss of germplasm due to the loss of ecotypes and landraces, loss of habitat (such as rainforests), and increased urbanization. Germplasm preservation is accomplished through gene banks (largely seed collections but now frozen stem sections) and preservation of natural habitats (especially in centers of origin).

Vavilov centers[edit]

Approximate centers of origin of agriculture in the Neolithic revolution and its spread in prehistory as understood in 2003: the Fertile Crescent (11,000 BP), the Yangtze and Yellow River basins (9,000 BP) and the New Guinea Highlands (9,000–6,000 BP), Central Mexico (5,000–4,000 BP), Northern South America (5,000–4,000 BP), sub-Saharan Africa (5,000–4,000 BP, exact location unknown), eastern North America (4,000–3,000 BP).[2]

A Vavilov Center (of Diversity) is a region of the world. First indicated by Nikolai Vavilov to be an original center for the domestication of plants.[3] For crop plants, Nikolai Vavilov identified differing numbers of centers: three in 1924, five in 1926, six in 1929, seven in 1931, eight in 1935 and reduced to seven again in 1940.[4][5]

Vavilov argued that plants were not domesticated somewhere in the world at random, but that there were regions where domestication started. The center of origin is also considered the center of diversity.

Vavilov's scheme as updated by Schery and Janick[edit]

Vavilov centers are regions where a high diversity of crop wild relatives can be found, representing the natural relatives of domesticated crop plants.

Cultivated plants of eight world centers of origin [6][7]

Center Plants
1) South Mexican and Central American Center Includes southern sections of Mexico, Guatemala, Honduras and Costa Rica.
2) South American Center 62 plants listed; three subcenters

2) Peruvian, Ecuadorean, Bolivian Center:

2A) Chiloé Center (Archipelago near the coast of southern Chile)

2B) Brazilian-Paraguayan Center

3) Mediterranean Center Includes all of Southern Europe and Northern Africa bordering the Mediterranean Sea. 84 listed plants
4) Middle East Includes interior of Asia Minor, all of Transcaucasia, Iran, and the highlands of Turkmenistan. 83 species
5) Abyssinian Center Includes Ethiopia, Eritrea, and part of Somalia. 38 species listed; rich in wheat and barley.
6) Central Asiatic Center Includes Northwest India (Punjab, Northwest Frontier Provinces and Kashmir), Afghanistan, Tadjikistan, Uzbekistan, and western Tian-Shan. 43 plants
7) Indian Center Two subcenters

7) Indo-Burma: Main Center (India): Includes Assam, Bangladesh and Burma, but not Northwest India, Punjab, nor Northwest Frontier Provinces, 117 plants

7A) Siam-Malaya-Java: statt Indo-Malayan Center: Includes Indo-China and the Malay Archipelago, 55 plants

8) Chinese Center A total of 136 endemic plants are listed in the largest independent center

Purugganan and Fuller 2009 scheme[edit]


Center Plants Years before present

1) eastern North America

Chenopodium berlandieri, Iva annua, and Helianthus annuus

4,500–4,000 years

2) Mesoamerica

Cucurbita pepo


Zea mays


2a) northern lowland neotropics

Cucurbita moschata, Ipomoea batatas, Phaseolus vulgaris, tree crops


3) central mid-altitude Andes

Chenopodium quinoa, Amaranthus caudatus


3a) north and central Andes, mid-altitude and high altitude areas

Solanum tuberosum, Oxalis tuberosa, Chenopodium pallidicaule


3b) lowland southern Amazonia

Manihot esculenta and Arachis hypogaea


3c) Ecuador (part of 3, 3a, and/or 3b?) and northwest Peru

Phaseolus lunatus, Canavalia plagiosperma, and Cucurbita ecuadorensis


4) western sub-Saharan African

Pennisetum glaucum


4a) west African savanna and woodlands

Vigna unguiculata


Digitaria exilis and Oryza glaberrima


4b) west African rainforests

Dioscorea rotundata and Elaeis guineensis

poorly documented

5) east Sudanic Africa

Sorghum bicolor


6) east African uplands

Eragrostis tef and Eleusine coracana


east African lowlands

vegeculture of Dioscorea cayennensis and Ensete ventricosum

poorly documented

7) Near East

Hordeum vulgare, Triticum spp., Lens culinaris, Pisum sativum, Cicer arietinum, Vicia faba


7a) eastern Fertile Crescent

additional Hordeum vulgare



8a) Gujarat, India

Panicum sumatrense and Vigna mungo


8b) Upper Indus

Panicum sumatrense, Vigna radiata, and Vigna aconitifolia


8c) Ganges

Oryza sativa subsp. indica


8d) southern India

Brachiaria ramosa, Vigna radiata, and Macrotyloma uniflorum


9) eastern Himalayas and Yunnan uplands

Fagopyrum esculentum


10) northern China

Setaria italica and Panicum miliaceum


Glycine max


11) southern Hokkaido, Japan

Echinochloa crusgalli


12) Yangtze River Valley, China

Oryza sativa subsp. japonica


12a) southern China

Colocasia spp., Coix lachryma-jobi

poorly documented, 4,500?

13) New Guinea and Wallacea

Colocasia esculenta, Dioscorea esculenta, and Musa acuminata


See also[edit]


  1. ^ "International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture" (PDF). Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations. 2009: Article 2. {{cite journal}}: Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  2. ^ Diamond, J.; Bellwood, P. (2003). "Farmers and Their Languages: The First Expansions". Science. 300 (5619): 597–603. Bibcode:2003Sci...300..597D. CiteSeerX doi:10.1126/science.1078208. PMID 12714734. S2CID 13350469.
  3. ^ Blaine P. Friedlander Jr (June 20, 2000). "Cornell and Polish research scientists lead effort to save invaluable potato genetic archive in Russia". Retrieved March 19, 2008.
  4. ^ Vavilov, N. I.; Löve, Doris (trans.) (1992). Origin and Geography of Cultivated Plants. Cambridge University Press. p. xxi. ISBN 978-0521404273.
  5. ^ Corinto, Gian Luigi (2014). "Nikolai Vavilov's Centers of Origin of Cultivated Plants With a View to Conserving Agricultural Biodiversity". Human Evolution. 29 (4): 285–301.
  6. ^ Adapted from Vavilov (1951) by R. W. Schery, Plants for Man, Prentice Hall, Englewood Cliffs, NJ, 1972
  7. ^ History of Horticulture, Jules Janick, Purdue University, 2002
  8. ^ Gross, B. L.; Zhao, Z. (April 21, 2014). "Archaeological and genetic insights into the origins of domesticated rice". Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. 111 (17): 6190–6197. Bibcode:2014PNAS..111.6190G. doi:10.1073/pnas.1308942110. PMC 4035933. PMID 24753573.
  9. ^ Purugganan, Michael D.; Fuller, Dorian Q. (2009). "The nature of selection during plant domestication". Nature. Nature Research. 457 (7231): 843–848. Bibcode:2009Natur.457..843P. doi:10.1038/nature07895. ISSN 0028-0836. PMID 19212403. S2CID 205216444.