In DepthArchaeology

Catching ancient maize domestication in the act

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Science  25 Nov 2016:
Vol. 354, Issue 6315, pp. 953-954
DOI: 10.1126/science.354.6315.953

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In a dramatic example of the power of domestication, beginning some 9000 years ago people in Mexico and the U.S. Southwest transformed the unappetizing grass called teosinte into the many-kerneled maize that today feeds hundreds of millions around the world. Researchers had already identified a handful of genes involved in this transformation. Now, studies of ancient DNA by two independent research groups show what was happening to the plant's genes middomestication, about 5000 years ago. The snapshot reveals exactly how the genetics changed over time as generations of people selected plants with their preferred traits.

  • * With reporting by Lizzie Wade.