Navigation Links
Researchers find the earliest evidence of domesticated maize
Date:3/23/2009

Maize was domesticated from its wild ancestor more than 8700 years according to biological evidence uncovered by researchers in the Mexico's Central Balsas River Valley. This is the earliest dated evidence -- by 1200 years -- for the presence and use of domesticated maize.

The researchers, led by Anthony Ranere of Temple University and Dolores Piperno of the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History, reported their findings in two studies -- "The Cultural and chronological context of early Holocene maize and squash domestication in the Central Balsas River Valley, Mexcio" and "Starch grain and phytolith evidence for early ninth millennium B.P. maize from the Central Balsas River Valley, Mexico" -- being published in the PNAS Early edition, March 24.

According to Ranere, recent studies have confirmed that maize derived from teosinte, a large wild grass that has five species growing in Mexico, Guatemala and Nicaragua. The teosinte species that is closest to maize is Balsas teosinte, which is native to Mexico's Central Balsas River Valley.

"We went to the area where the closest relative to maize grows, looked for the earliest maize and found it," said Ranere. "That wasn't surprising since molecular biologists had determined that Balsas teosinte was the ancestral species to maize. So it made sense that this was where we would find the earliest domestication of maize."

The study began with Piperno, a Temple University anthropology alumna, finding evidence in the form of pollen and charcoal in lake sediments that forests were being cut down and burned in the Central Balsas River Valley to create agricultural plots by 7000 years ago. She also found maize and squash phytoliths -- rigid microscopic bodies found in many plants -- in lakeside sediments.

Ranere, an archaeologist, joined in the study to find rock shelters or caves where people lived in that region thousands of years ago. His team carried out excavations in four of the 15 caves and rock shelters visited in the region, but only one of them yielded evidence for the early domestication of maize and squash.

Ranere excavated the site and recovered numerous grinding tools. Radiocarbon dating showed that the tools dated back at least 8700 years. Although grinding tools were found beneath the 8700 year level, the researchers were not able to obtain a radiocarbon date for the earliest deposits. Previously, the earliest evidence for the cultivation of maize came from Ranere and Piperno's earlier research in Panama where maize starch and phytoliths dated back 7600 years.

Ranere said that maize starch, which is different from teosinte starch, was found in crevices of many of the tools that were unearthed.

"We found maize starch in almost every tool that we analyzed, all the way down to the bottom of our site excavations," Ranere said. "We also found phytoliths that comes from maize or corn cobs, and since teosinte doesn't have cobs, we knew we had something that had changed from its wild form."

Ranere said that their findings also supported the premise that maize was domesticated in a lowland seasonal forest context, as opposed to being domesticated in the arid highlands as many researchers had once believed.

"For a long time, I though it strange that researchers argued about the location and age of maize domestication yet never looked in the Central Balsas River Valley, the homeland for the wild ancestor," said Ranere. "Dolores was the first one to do it.'


'/>"/>

Contact: Preston M. Moretz
pmoretz@temple.edu
215-204-4380
Temple University
Source:Eurekalert  

Related biology news :

1. Pitt-led researchers create quick, simple fluorescent detector for TB
2. Einstein and Pitt researchers develop new TB test that will dramatically cut diagnosis time
3. University researchers to develop coatings that kill superbugs
4. K-State researchers work with university in Ghana to create biofuels from native tree seeds
5. Heinz Maier-Leibnitz Prizes 2009: Six young researchers recognized for outstanding achievements
6. Researchers identify genetic markers for aggressive head and neck cancer
7. Stanford researchers develop biodegradable substitutes for wood, plastic bottles and other materials
8. NASA researchers find clues to a secret of life
9. Carnegie Mellon researchers apply new statistical test
10. Regulatory molecule for tumor formation or suppression identified by Singapore, US researchers
11. K-State researchers help Epitopix license the United States first E. coli O157 vaccine for cattle
Post Your Comments:
*Name:
*Comment:
*Email:
Related Image:
Researchers find the earliest evidence of domesticated maize
(Date:11/21/2016)... Lithuania , Nov. 21, 2016   ... and object recognition technologies, today announced that the ... smart cards was submitted for the NIST ... successfully passed all the mandatory steps of the ... evaluation is a continuing test of fingerprint templates ...
(Date:11/15/2016)...  Synthetic Biologics, Inc. (NYSE MKT: SYN), a ... gut microbiome, today announced the pricing of an ... common stock and warrants to purchase 50,000,000 shares ... the public of $1.00 per share and accompanying ... offering, excluding the proceeds, if any from the ...
(Date:6/22/2016)... BETHESDA, Md. , June 22, 2016  The American ... by Trade Show Executive Magazine as one of ... Summit on May 25-27 at the Bellagio in ... based on the highest percentage of growth in each of ... number of exhibiting companies and number of attendees. The 2015 ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:12/7/2016)... and ANN ARBOR, Mich. , ... biopharmaceutical company developing breakthrough immune modulatory medicines, announced today ... the Company,s lead therapeutic candidate, LYC-30937- E nteric ... a debilitating skin disease that is estimated to affect ... United States , with approximately 1.5 - 3 ...
(Date:12/7/2016)... (PRWEB) , ... December 07, 2016 , ... ... treatment and resource recovery solutions for industrial facilities, today announced that one of ... the first to use Cambrian’s novel water-energy purchase agreement (WEPA). Under the WEPA, ...
(Date:12/7/2016)... ... 2016 , ... JULABO USA is inviting visitors to explore ... has been designed to provide the best user-friendly experience coupled with intuitive navigation ... information, read educational industry content as well as share information across all major ...
(Date:12/7/2016)... ... 2016 , ... Kara Dwyer Dodge grew up hearing stories of the sea monster her father ... found a sea turtle entangled in the lines of one of his lobster pots. He ... because no one could remember ever seeing one so large so close to shore. After ...
Breaking Biology Technology: