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DNA reveals history of maize

Nature volume 539, page 471 (24 November 2016) | Download Citation

Maize (corn) that grew more than 5,000 years ago was genetically more similar to today's maize than to its wild counterpart, suggesting that the plant was already being domesticated.

Nathan Wales and Jazmín Ramos-Madrigal of the University of Copenhagen and their team sequenced the genome of a 5,310-year-old maize cob (Zea mays) excavated in the 1960s in Mexico. They found a gene variant responsible for producing kernels that lack a hard seed coat and are easy to eat — probably the first step in domestication. However, other genes typically found in today's maize were absent, including one that prevents maize ears from shattering when ripe.

Curr. Biol. (2016)

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