Navigation Links
Corn's roots dig deeper into South America
Date:3/24/2008

Corn has long been known as the primary food crop in prehistoric North and Central America. Now it appears it may have been an important part of the South American diet for much longer than previously thought, according to new research by University of Calgary archaeologists who are cobbling together the ancient history of plant domestication in the New World.

In a paper published in the March 24 advanced online edition of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS), U of C PhD student Sonia Zarrillo and archaeology professor Dr. Scott Raymond report that a new technique for examining ancient cooking pots has produced the earliest directly dated examples of domesticated corn (maize) being consumed on the South American continent. Their discovery shows the spread of maize out of Mexico more than 9,000 years ago occurred much faster than previously believed and provides evidence that corn was likely a vital food crop for villages in tropical Ecuador at least 5,000 years ago.

The domestication and dispersal of maize has been a hot topic in archaeology for decades and these are the earliest indisputable dates for its presence in South America, Raymond said. It has long been thought that maize may have been used south of Panama at this time for ritual purposes but this shows it was also being consumed as food.

Raymond led the excavation of tropical village sites in western Ecuador in the early 1980s, which are the oldest known villages in the Americas. Using pottery fragments recovered from the sites, Zarrillo obtained the charred remnants of prehistoric meals and found they contained starch granules from domesticated corn.

Plant material typically does not preserve very well in tropical sites but it turns out that microscopic starch grains do survive very well over the years and can be used to identify exact species of plants, Zarrillo said. Analyzing starch from charred food residues is a new technique in archaeology and it is exciting because it will stimulate research around the world when people realize they can recover starch from cooking pots and use it to date and identify what people were using as food.

Starch analysis was also used by Zarrillo and Raymond for a study published in Science last year that traced the domestication and spread of chili peppers throughout South America, Central America and the Caribbean more than 6,000 years ago.


'/>"/>

Contact: Grady Semmens
gsemmens@ucalgary.ca
403-220-7722
University of Calgary
Source:Eurekalert

Related biology news :

1. How roots find a route
2. Using DNA, scientists hunt for the roots of the modern potato
3. Could hairy roots become biofactories?
4. Hungry microbes share out the carbon in the roots of plants
5. Smart flower bulbs pull themselves to deeper ground
6. Soybean varieties viable in southern Indiana, resistant to root-knot nematode
7. Northern right whales head south to give birth, leave genetic fingerprints with NOAA researchers
8. e-SMART Technologies Continues Delivery of Its New Super SMART Card in South Korea
9. Voyage to Southern Ocean aims to study air-sea fluxes of greenhouse gases
10. e-Smart(R) Technologies Delivers Its New Super Smart Card(TM) in South Korea.
11. Antarctic expedition provides new insights into the role of the Southern Ocean for global climate
Post Your Comments:
*Name:
*Comment:
*Email:
(Date:3/20/2017)... HANOVER, Germany , March 20, 2017 At ... Hamburg -based biometrics manufacturer DERMALOG. The Chancellor came to the ... Japan is this year,s CeBIT partner country. At the largest ... important biometrics in use: fingerprint, face and iris recognition as well as ... ...
(Date:3/16/2017)... - Against identity fraud with DERMALOG solutions "Made in Germany "  ... ... multi-biometric solutions provide a crucial contribution against identity fraud. (PRNewsFoto/Dermalog Identification Systems) ... Used combined in one project, multi-biometric solutions provide a crucial contribution against identity ... ...
(Date:3/9/2017)... Australia , March 9, 2017 /PRNewswire/ ... at the prestigious World Lung Imaging Workshop at the ... Fouras , was invited to deliver the latest data ... This globally recognised event brings together leaders at the ... latest developments in lung imaging. "The ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:3/24/2017)... Md. , March 24, 2017  Infectex Ltd., ... (MBVF), today announced positive results of a Phase 2b-3 ... therapy regimen in patients with multidrug-resistant pulmonary tuberculosis (MDR-TB). ... scientists at Sequella, Inc. ( USA ) ... A total of 140 patients were enrolled in ...
(Date:3/24/2017)... , March 24, 2017 Agenus Inc. ... immune checkpoint antibodies and cancer vaccines, today announced participation ... 7 th  Annual William Blair and Maidstone Life Sciences ... Alexandria Center in New York, NY ... March 29 at 9:40 am: Robert B. ...
(Date:3/23/2017)... March 23, 2017  SeraCare Life Sciences, ... in vitro diagnostics manufacturers and clinical laboratories, ... first multiplexed Inherited Cancer reference material ... by next-generation sequencing (NGS). The Seraseqâ„¢ Inherited Cancer ... input from industry experts to validate the ...
(Date:3/23/2017)... NEW YORK , March 23, 2017 ... ... causes of death, putting significant strain on health care systems, ... of cancer diagnoses rises, so too does the development of ... with minimum side effects. Among the many types of cancer ...
Breaking Biology Technology: