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:3/20/2017)... March 20, 2017 At this year,s CeBIT Chancellor ... biometrics manufacturer DERMALOG. The Chancellor came to the DERMALOG stand together with ... this year,s CeBIT partner country. At the largest German biometrics company the ... fingerprint, face and iris recognition as well as DERMALOGĀ“s multi-biometrics system.   ... ...
(Date:3/16/2017)... 16, 2017 CeBIT 2017 - Against identity fraud with DERMALOG solutions ... ... Used combined in one project, multi-biometric solutions provide a crucial contribution against ... Used combined in one project, ... ...
(Date:3/9/2017)... March 9, 2017 4Dx has publicly released ... Imaging Workshop at the University of Pennsylvania. Founder and ... deliver the latest data to world leaders in lung ... together leaders at the forefront of the industry to ... "The quality of the imaging is ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:4/26/2017)... (PRWEB) , ... April 25, 2017 , ... LABS, Inc. ... were added to its extensive test menu: Nucleic Acid Testing (NAT) for ZIKV; ... LABS was only able to offer NAT screening for blood donors under an Investigational ...
(Date:4/26/2017)... ... April 26, 2017 , ... NextSteps ... and North America this May on the following dates: , ?    London, ... Taylor, Chairman of the Learning and Performance Institute will be the opening ...
(Date:4/26/2017)... April 26, 2017  Genisphere LLC, provider of ... signed a collaborative and sponsored research agreement with ... Muro . The overall goal of the partnership ... various 3DNA designs and formulations after in ... of the vasculature as well as inflammatory responses, ...
(Date:4/25/2017)... Oakland, California (PRWEB) , ... April 25, 2017 ... ... Artificial Intelligence (AI), leading supplier of Common Lisp (CL) development tools, and market ... 10.1 , which includes key performance enhancements now available within the most effective ...
Breaking Biology Technology: