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      Transgenic DNA introgressed into traditional maize landraces in Oaxaca, Mexico

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      Nature

      Springer Science and Business Media LLC

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          Abstract

          Concerns have been raised about the potential effects of transgenic introductions on the genetic diversity of crop landraces and wild relatives in areas of crop origin and diversification, as this diversity is considered essential for global food security. Direct effects on non-target species, and the possibility of unintentionally transferring traits of ecological relevance onto landraces and wild relatives have also been sources of concern. The degree of genetic connectivity between industrial crops and their progenitors in landraces and wild relatives is a principal determinant of the evolutionary history of crops and agroecosystems throughout the world. Recent introductions of transgenic DNA constructs into agricultural fields provide unique markers to measure such connectivity. For these reasons, the detection of transgenic DNA in crop landraces is of critical importance. Here we report the presence of introgressed transgenic DNA constructs in native maize landraces grown in remote mountains in Oaxaca, Mexico, part of the Mesoamerican centre of origin and diversification of this crop.

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          Most cited references 9

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          The limits of selection during maize domestication.

          The domestication of all major crop plants occurred during a brief period in human history about 10,000 years ago. During this time, ancient agriculturalists selected seed of preferred forms and culled out seed of undesirable types to produce each subsequent generation. Consequently, favoured alleles at genes controlling traits of interest increased in frequency, ultimately reaching fixation. When selection is strong, domestication has the potential to drastically reduce genetic diversity in a crop. To understand the impact of selection during maize domestication, we examined nucleotide polymorphism in teosinte branched1, a gene involved in maize evolution. Here we show that the effects of selection were limited to the gene's regulatory region and cannot be detected in the protein-coding region. Although selection was apparently strong, high rates of recombination and a prolonged domestication period probably limited its effects. Our results help to explain why maize is such a variable crop. They also suggest that maize domestication required hundreds of years, and confirm previous evidence that maize was domesticated from Balsas teosinte of southwestern Mexico.
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            The earliest archaeological maize (Zea mays L.) from highland Mexico: new accelerator mass spectrometry dates and their implications.

            Accelerator mass spectrometry age determinations of maize cobs (Zea mays L.) from Guilá Naquitz Cave in Oaxaca, Mexico, produced dates of 5,400 carbon-14 years before the present (about 6,250 calendar years ago), making those cobs the oldest in the Americas. Macrofossils and phytoliths characteristic of wild and domesticated Zea fruits are absent from older strata from the site, although Zea pollen has previously been identified from those levels. These results, together with the modern geographical distribution of wild Zea mays, suggest that the cultural practices that led to Zea domestication probably occurred elsewhere in Mexico. Guilá Naquitz Cave has now yielded the earliest macrofossil evidence for the domestication of two major American crop plants, squash (Cucurbita pepo) and maize.
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              From teosinte to maize: the catastrophic sexual transmutation.

               Hugh Iltis (1983)
              An alternative to the theory that the ear of maize (Zea mays ssp. mays) evolved from a slender female ear of a Mexican annual teosinte holds that it was derived from the central spike of a male teosinte inflorescence (tassel) which terminates the primary lateral branches. This alternative hypothesis is more consistent with morphology and explains the anomalous lack of significant genetic and biochemical differences between these taxa. Maize, the only cereal with unisexual inflorescences, evolved through a sudden epigenetic sexual transmutation involving condensation of primary branches, which brought their tassels into the zone of female expression, leading to strong apical dominance and a catastrophic shift in nutrient allocation. Initially, this quantum change may have involved no new mutations, but rather genetic assimilation under human selection of an abnormality, perhaps environmentally triggered.
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                Author and article information

                Journal
                Nature
                Nature
                Springer Science and Business Media LLC
                0028-0836
                1476-4687
                November 2001
                November 2001
                : 414
                : 6863
                : 541-543
                Article
                10.1038/35107068
                11734853
                © 2001

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