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Lesson summary for:
Relevance of evolution: Agriculture


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Explore just a few of the many cases in which evolutionary theory helps us secure and improve the world's crops. Genetic diversity, disease resistance and pest control are highlighted.

UC Museum of Paleontology

Grade level:

20-30 minutes

Teaching tips:
This article is one of a set of three (agriculture, conservation, and medicine) that can be used to teach about the relevance of evolution. This article exemplifies many different evolutionary concepts and would be well-supported by materials focusing on each of these concepts in particular. This particular article will also support the teaching of Mendelian genetics.

Correspondence to the Next Generation Science Standards is indicated in parentheses after each relevant concept. See our conceptual framework for details.

  • Present-day species evolved from earlier species; the relatedness of organisms is the result of common ancestry. (LS4.A)

  • Evolution results from selection acting upon genetic variation within a population. (LS4.B)

  • Inherited characteristics affect the likelihood of an organism's survival and reproduction. (LS4.B, LS4.C)

  • Depending on environmental conditions, inherited characteristics may be advantageous, neutral, or detrimental.

  • The amount of genetic variation within a population may affect the likelihood of survival of the population; the less the available diversity, the less likely the population will be able to survive environmental change.

  • Natural selection acts on the variation that exists in a population. (LS4.B, LS4.C)

  • Over time, the proportion of individuals with advantageous characteristics may increase (and the proportion with disadvantageous characteristics may decrease) due to their likelihood of surviving and reproducing. (LS4.B, LS4.C)

  • As with other scientific disciplines, evolutionary biology has applications that factor into everyday life.

Teacher background:

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