Anyone who has seen teosinte, the wild grass from which maize (corn) evolved, might be forgiven for assuming many genetic changes underlie the transformation of one plant to the other.
Plant domestication can be thought of as a two-step process. In the first step, plants acquire traits in what is called the “domestication syndrome” that make the plant worth the labor of cultivation. These include traits that allow a crop to be reliably sown, cultivated and harvested, such as uniform seed germination and fruit ripening.
In the second step, the now domesticated plant is selected for improved qualities. It is in this stage, for example, that farmers might breed many different varieties of a crop that differ in grain taste, fruit color or fruit shape.