In DepthAgriculture

Unlocking a key to maize's amazing success

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Science  21 Jul 2017:
Vol. 357, Issue 6348, pp. 240
DOI: 10.1126/science.357.6348.240

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Maize grows on every continent save Antarctica and provides food and biofuels for millions of people. Now, researchers studying ancient and modern maize have found a clue to its popularity over the millennia: maize’s easily adjustable flowering time, which enabled ancient peoples to get the plant to thrive in diverse climates, according to several studies presented in July at the meeting of the Society for Molecular Biology and Evolution in Austin. The studies found hints of the genomic shifts behind such rapid change, and ancient DNA studies presented at the meeting began to clarify when maize flowering came under farmer control, revealing enormous adaptive potential that humans were able to exploit.