Loss of seed-coat impermeability was essential in the domestication of many leguminous crops to promote the production of their highly nutritious seeds. Here we show that seed-coat impermeability in wild soybean is controlled by a single gene, GmHs1-1, which encodes a calcineurin-like metallophosphoesterase transmembrane protein. GmHs1-1 is primarily expressed in the Malpighian layer of the seed coat and is associated with calcium content. The transition from impermeability to permeability in domesticated soybean was caused by artificial selection of a point mutation in GmHs1-1. Interestingly, a number of soybean landraces evaded selection for permeability because of an alternative selection for seed-coat cracking that also enables seed imbibition. Despite the single origin of the mutant allele Gmhs1-1, the distribution pattern of allelic variants in the context of soybean population structure and the detected signature of genomic introgression between wild and cultivated soybeans suggest that Gmhs1-1 may have experienced reselection for seed-coat permeability.
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