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Maize Reveals Traces Of Old Breeding Project
Nature ^ | 12-1-2004 | Emma Harris

Posted on 12/02/2004 11:37:33 AM PST by blam

Maize reveals traces of old breeding project

Emma Marris

Gene suggests ancient culture selected patterns in its corn.

Teosinte grass (left) compared to "reconstructed" primitive maize, created by crossing teosinte with Argentine pop corn.

© The Doebley Lab

The people of Mesoamerica are largely responsible for the golden corn we grow today, having domesticated tough teosinte grass thousands of years ago and bred it into modern maize.

Researchers have now located the gene responsible for some of the traits that the Mesoamericans were selecting. The discovery should help scientists understand how plants develop, and reveals just how strict the ancient breeding regime for maize (Zea mays) must have been.

Robert Schmidt, a maize researcher at the University of California, San Diego, and his colleagues were intrigued by a mutant maize that was found in South America in the 1920s. The mutant is unable to grow branches or flowers, and happens to resemble a particular rice mutant in this respect. Because the sequence of the gene that causes the effect is known for rice, Schmidt and his team were able to pin down the sequence in maize.

They called the mutated gene barren stalk1 and were able to show that the normal version of barren stalk1 regulates how the maize plants branch. They report their results in this week's Nature1.

Perhaps by having fewer branches you get bigger seeds. We don't know.

Robert Schmidt University of California, San Diego

But not only does barren stalk1 regulate branching, it is also located within one of five regions that maize researchers have identified as targets of domestication. So, was it one of the genes that the Mesoamericans unknowingly selected for as they tamed teosinte (Zea mexicana)?

Fruitful work

To investigate further, the researchers compared the number of variants of the barrenstalk1 gene in teosinte, which still grows wild in Mexico's Sierra Madre, with the number in modern maize.

In teosinte, there are about a dozen common variants of the gene, all of which probably produced subtly different branching patterns in the plants. It is common for this number of variants to be present in a particular species of plant. But in modern maize, only one variant exists, suggesting that the others must have been eliminated by rigorous selective breeding.

"It's a really impressive paper," says Phillip SanMiguel, geneticist at Purdue University in West Lafayette, Indiana, who works with maize.

Why did the Mesoamericans plump so strongly for one branching pattern rather than another? Schmidt's team has not nailed this down yet. But presumably there was something about the branching of maize with that particular variant that was useful.

"In combination with other genes it probably had some impact on the architecture that was important to the Mesoamericans," suggests Schmidt. "Perhaps by having fewer branches you get bigger seeds. We don't know."

The next step will be to paste all the variants of the barren stalk1 that exist in teosinte into modern maize, Schimdt's team says. Once you see what the differences are in maize, it will be easier to guess why a particular variant was chosen.


TOPICS: News/Current Events
KEYWORDS: agriculture; animalhusbandry; archaeology; arragant; biotech; breeding; dietandcuisine; environment; farming; fools; ggg; godsgravesglyphs; history; huntergatherers; ivory; ivorytowerfools; maize; ole; project; reveals; tower; traces

1 posted on 12/02/2004 11:37:33 AM PST by blam
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To: SunkenCiv

GGG Ping.


2 posted on 12/02/2004 11:38:06 AM PST by blam
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To: blam
The people of Mesoamerica are largely responsible for the golden corn we grow today, having domesticated tough teosinte grass thousands of years ago and bred it into modern maize.

Yes, just one more societal improvement "stolen by evil Europeans and claimed as their own...blah, blah, blah"

3 posted on 12/02/2004 11:49:51 AM PST by pabianice
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To: blam

got butter?


4 posted on 12/02/2004 11:51:42 AM PST by Revelation 911 (basted with a solution of not more than 5% bacon fat and sodium nitrite to retain juicyness)
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To: pabianice

Wow. Bitter much? ;0)


5 posted on 12/02/2004 11:53:10 AM PST by Chad Fairbanks ('Hate' is just a special kind of Love we give to people who suck.)
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To: blam

Willie Maize was one of my favorite baseball players.


6 posted on 12/02/2004 11:53:49 AM PST by TommyDale
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To: blam
Why did the Mesoamericans plump so strongly for one branching pattern rather than another?

The secret is in the walls at Macchu Picchu:


7 posted on 12/02/2004 11:59:36 AM PST by frithguild (Withdraw from the 1967 Treaty on the Exploration an Use of Outer Space - Establish Private Property)
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To: blam; FairOpinion; Ernest_at_the_Beach; SunkenCiv; 24Karet; 3AngelaD; 4ConservativeJustices; ...
thanks blam.
Please FREEPMAIL me if you want on, off, or alter the "Gods, Graves, Glyphs" PING list --
Archaeology/Anthropology/Ancient Cultures/Artifacts/Antiquities, etc.
The GGG Digest
-- Gods, Graves, Glyphs (alpha order)

8 posted on 12/02/2004 12:01:11 PM PST by SunkenCiv ("All I have seen teaches me trust the Creator for all I have not seen." -- Emerson)
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To: blam

Hmm. Here we have fireweed and diamond willow. Maybe we can get something like a silk apple tree by crossing them, something that would thrive in the harsh subarctic growing conditions and feed the moose even better than fireweed and diamond willow by themselves.


9 posted on 12/02/2004 12:06:40 PM PST by RightWhale (Destroy the dark; restore the light)
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To: blam

Genetic Engineering is much faster....Mmmmm, yummy GMOs.....


10 posted on 12/02/2004 12:41:33 PM PST by To Hell With Poverty (Escapee from Massachusetts, where the 'Rats cling to their sinking ship!)
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To: blam
Why did the Mesoamericans plump so strongly for one branching pattern rather than another? "... it probably had some impact on the architecture that was important to the Mesoamericans,"


11 posted on 12/02/2004 12:45:21 PM PST by newgeezer (Just my opinion, of course. Your mileage may vary. You have the right to be wrong.)
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To: SunkenCiv; blam

"The discovery of a tomb filled with decapitated bodies suggests Mexico's 2,000 year-old 'Pyramid of the Moon' may have been the site of horrifically gory sacrifices, archeologists said on December 2, 2004. The tomb at Teotihuacan, the first major city built in the Americas, whose origins are one of history's great mysteries, also held the bound carcasses of eagles, dogs and other animals. The Pyramid is seen in this September 2 file photo. (Henry Romero/Reuters)"

Thu Dec 2, 5:03 PM ET

12 posted on 12/02/2004 5:29:59 PM PST by BenLurkin (Big government is still a big problem.)
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To: Chani

pong for litter


13 posted on 12/02/2004 7:33:58 PM PST by Chani (bookmark girl)
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To: blam
But in modern maize, only one variant exists, suggesting that the others must have been eliminated by rigorous selective breeding

So, was it one of the genes that the Mesoamericans unknowingly selected for as they tamed teosinte (Zea mexicana)?

Fruitful work

The arrogance and self-importance of IV tower "intellectuals" is staggering in its delusions of grandeur and import.

14 posted on 12/02/2004 8:11:00 PM PST by Don W (You can tell a lot about a person by how they treat someone that can't help them.)
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To: blam
The stalk on the left looks a bit like the Hope "Blue Corn"..

I have read somewhere that it has fairly ancient origins and was a staple throughout Mexico and the American Southwest..

15 posted on 12/02/2004 9:40:25 PM PST by Drammach (Freedom; not just a job, it's an adventure..)
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To: Drammach

Hope = Hopi..


16 posted on 12/02/2004 9:40:50 PM PST by Drammach (Freedom; not just a job, it's an adventure..)
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Early plant domestication in Mesoamerica
Athena Review Vol.2, no.1
Referring to these mysterious origins, Kent Flannery (1986) has called maize the "most controversial and most enigmatic of any major cultivated plant." All specimens of primitive maize known from archaeological sites are domesticated forms. Maize is not included in the taxa considered above under "wild-food production," nor does it appear on the list of the earliest cultigens. This is because it simply wasn't there. Identifying the wild progenitor(s?) of maize means reconstructing genetic events with little material corroboration, and so has been the subject of much speculation and debate for at least 100 years. Opinions are numerous, but currently the three leading hypotheses are: the Wild Maize Hypothesis, the Orthodox Teosinte Theory, and the Catastrophic Sexual Transmutation Theory (as shown in Benz and Iltis 1992).
I recall reading (probably 10 or 15 years ago) about the (figurative) shootout between the alleged dean of corn genetics ("Teosinte", from Wisconsin I think) and someone who was apparently at that time the lone advocate for the third model shown here.

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17 posted on 12/02/2004 10:13:51 PM PST by SunkenCiv ("All I have seen teaches me trust the Creator for all I have not seen." -- Emerson)
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To: blam; abbi_normal_2; Ace2U; adam_az; Alamo-Girl; Alas; alfons; alphadog; amom; AndreaZingg; ...
Rights, farms, environment ping.
Let me know if you wish to be added or removed from this list.
I don't get offended if you want to be removed.
18 posted on 12/02/2004 10:16:29 PM PST by farmfriend ( In Essentials, Unity...In Non-Essentials, Liberty...In All Things, Charity.)
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To: blam; farmfriend
was it one of the genes that the Mesoamericans unknowingly selected for as they tamed teosinte

But in modern maize, only one variant exists, suggesting that the others must have been eliminated by rigorous selective breeding.

Ok im getting a freaking migraine here trying to figure this out.Does anyone on this thread know exactly how in the hell you can unknowingly rigorously selectively breed a plant ?Am i missing something?

19 posted on 12/03/2004 2:54:35 AM PST by freepatriot32 (http://chonlalonde.blogspot.com)
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To: farmfriend

BTT!!!!!!


20 posted on 12/03/2004 3:00:47 AM PST by E.G.C.
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To: freepatriot32
Does anyone on this thread know exactly how in the hell you can unknowingly rigorously selectively breed a plant ?Am i missing something?

Snickering!

I understood it to mean that they were rigorously selecting for one trait and because of the genetic connection unknowingly selected for another trait as well. These things are not very clear sometimes.

21 posted on 12/03/2004 11:14:39 AM PST by farmfriend ( In Essentials, Unity...In Non-Essentials, Liberty...In All Things, Charity.)
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To: farmfriend

ok that makes more sense now and my migraine is gone :-)


22 posted on 12/04/2004 12:39:40 PM PST by freepatriot32 (http://chonlalonde.blogspot.com)
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To: freepatriot32
ok that makes more sense now and my migraine is gone :-)

I get those. Turns my brain to rummy.

23 posted on 12/05/2004 10:14:52 PM PST by farmfriend ( In Essentials, Unity...In Non-Essentials, Liberty...In All Things, Charity.)
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 GGG managers are SunkenCiv, StayAt HomeMother & Ernest_at_the_Beach
Just updating the GGG info, not sending a general distribution.

To all -- please ping me to other topics which are appropriate for the GGG list.


24 posted on 04/29/2012 8:01:33 PM PDT by SunkenCiv (FReepathon 2Q time -- https://secure.freerepublic.com/donate/)
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