Domestication and adaptation in Neotropical palms – a microevolutionary history

Duration : 2022 - 2027
Research program : Conseil européen de la recherche (ERC, Horizon Europe)
Geographic extension : Europe

Pre-Columbian societies

Amazonia is the most diverse forest on earth but it is facing a significant biodiversity loss due to increasing human pressures and climate change. However, the state of diversity in lowland Amazonia and underlying evolutionary processes are largely under-documented, making it difficult to anticipate future changes and to elaborate knowledge-driven mitigation strategies. Moreover, very little attention has been paid to the recent evolution of plant populations through the Holocene that witnessed the rise of pre-Columbian societies. Although South America is commonly credited as a major centre of plant domestication, most studies focused on a few major crops with an obvious domestication syndrome, leaving aside most Amazonian species with tenuous evidence of domestication.

DOPAMICS will challenge the domestication syndrome paradigm in the light of ‘incipiently domesticated’ palm species of ancient agroecosystems of Amazonia. I will build upon emblematic archaeological sites – the so-called ‘ring-dicthes’ – and implement an interdisciplinary methodology at the crossroads between ecology, evolution and human sciences to illustrate the diversity of domestication histories in Neotropical palms in a multi-species setting. DOPAMICS aims to retrace the pre-Columbian history of contemporary wild landscapes, disentangle natural and anthropogenic evolutionary processes that shaped patterns of genomic and phenomic diversity (with a focus on fruit metabolism and fibre biomechanics) and forecast the future of palm populations under scenarios of fast genetic diversity loss (e.g. selective logging, maladaptation to future conditions).

DOPAMICS will provide extensive field observational data, a fine knowledge of the microevolutionary history of domestication in Neotropical palms, and new avenues towards the sustainable use of Amazonian landscapes to reconcile environmental concerns raised by the loss of wild diversity with local socio-economic needs.


  • CNRS
  • Parc Amazonien de Guyane
  • Nouragues Ecological Research Station