The future of the Jerusalem artichoke as a crop hinges upon the introduction of critical genetic improvements via plant breeding. Existing commercial cultivars are closer in appearance to their wild ancestors than most crop species, due to the fact that the Jerusalem artichoke has not been subject to the same degree of genetic manipulation. Nevertheless, a great deal of diversity is evident. The tubers, for instance, occur in a range of shapes, sizes and colors. Selective breeding has been conducted since at least the 17th century, especially in Europe, although not in a particularly coordinated manner. A large number of cultivars and clones have been described, but duplication under different names may be commonplace. Breeding efforts have concentrated on increasing tuber yield and the inulin content of tubers. More recently, interest has focused on using Jerusalem artichoke as a multipurpose crop, for food and nonfood industry applications, as a feedstock for energy production, and as forage or concentrated animal feed.