Corporate Banner
Satellite Banner
Informatics
Scientific Community
 
Become a Member | Sign in
Home>News>This Article
  News
Return

Studies on Domesticated Maize Identify Genes that Evolved from Wild Ancestors

Published: Wednesday, June 06, 2012
Last Updated: Wednesday, June 06, 2012
Bookmark and Share
Studies identify genes that played a role in corn domestication as well as variations and similarities between domesticated maize and its wild relatives.

Maize was likely domesticated in Mexico around 10,000 years ago, and since then humans have continued to radically alter the plant's genetic makeup.

Two new papers by a consortium of international researchers, including many at Cornell, identify genes that played a role in corn domestication as well as variations and similarities between domesticated maize and its wild relatives.

The results, published June 3 in Nature Genetics, will help breeders and geneticists make further advancements.

Cornell researchers, led by Edward Buckler, a U.S. Department of Agriculture-Agricultural Research Station (USDA-ARS) geneticist in Cornell's Institute for Genomic Diversity and Cornell adjunct professor of plant breeding and genetics, organized the effort. The USDA-ARS and Cornell researchers also led many aspects of the sequencing, statistics and bioinformatics.

In the first paper, a research team led by Doreen Ware, a computational biologist with the USDA-ARS and an adjunct assistant professor at the Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory, used advanced techniques to sequence the entire genomes of domesticated Zea mays corn and a wild maize relative, Tripsacum, a grass from a sister genus that grows and overwinters in the eastern United States.

While Tripsacum has a larger genome, the researchers found tremendous overlap between it and maize, according to the paper. Due to the similarities, "we may be able to combine the natural variation out there for use in breeding and genetics," Buckler said. The findings suggest that such traits as perennialism and frost- and drought-tolerance found in Tripsacum can likely be integrated into maize.

The maize genome -- which is six times larger than the rice genome and almost as large as the human genome -- is mostly composed of repetitious and "junk" DNA. Scientists have debated whether junk regions between genes matter for phenotype and traits. The genetic analysis reported in the paper showed that the junk regions were important for controlling natural variation. "It looks like those repetitive regions of the genome contribute to about 20 to 40 percent of natural variation," said Buckler.

In the second paper, a research team led by Jeffrey Ross-Ibarra, assistant professor in the Department of Plant Sciences and the Genome Center at the University of California-Davis, analyzed the DNA sequence of 75 wild maize, landraces (locally adapted maize types with traits selected over centuries by rural farmers) and improved (scientifically altered) maize lines, and identified the genes underlying maize domestication and evolution.

"We went from a bushy plant with small ears to a robust plant with big ears today adapted to agricultural fields," said Buckler. "It took well over 1,000 genes to go from that adaptation to the current one, and this study helps identify those 1,000 genes."

Identifying those key genes in modern corn allows geneticists and breeders to target them when using natural variation or transgenics to create varieties with new, desirable traits.

The researchers also found that environment plays a big role in determining which genes control traits. For example, genes that control high yield in a temperate climate were found to be very different from genes that control productivity in the tropics.

The research team also included scientists from the University of California-Davis, Beijing Genomics Institute, Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory, Arizona State University, University of Wisconsin-Madison, University of Minnesota and the University of Missouri.

The studies were funded by the National Science Foundation, USDA, Chinese Ministry of Agriculture, Shenzhen Municipal Government, and U.S. Department of Energy.


Further Information

Join For Free

Access to this exclusive content is for Technology Networks Premium members only.

Join Technology Networks Premium for free access to:

  • Exclusive articles
  • Presentations from international conferences
  • Over 3,300+ scientific posters on ePosters
  • More than 4,900+ scientific videos on LabTube
  • 35 community eNewsletters


Sign In



Forgotten your details? Click Here
If you are not a member you can join here

*Please note: By logging into TechnologyNetworks.com you agree to accept the use of cookies. To find out more about the cookies we use and how to delete them, see our privacy policy.

Related Content

Computer Model Reveals Cancer's Energy Source
Findings focused on the energy-making process in cancer cells known as the Warburg Effect.
Tuesday, August 19, 2014
Scientific News
Researchers Develop Software That Could Facilitate Drug Development
AptaTRACE can identify aptamers, potentially speed drug advancement.
Protein Nanocages Could Improve Drug Design and Delivery
HHMI scientists have designed and built 10 large protein icosahedra that are similar to viral capsids that carry viral DNA.
Connectome Map More Than Doubles Human Cortex’s Known Regions
Researchers at NIH have developed software that automatically detects the “fingerprint” of each of these areas in an individual’s brain scans.
Virus Inspired Cell Cargo Ships
Virus-inspired container design may lead to cell cargo ships following construction of ten large, two-component, icosahedral protein complexes.
Three-Drug Combinations Counter Antibiotic Resistance
Research shows that combinations of three different antibiotics can treat resistant bacteria, even if they are ineffective independently.
Supercomputing and Drug Discovery
New biotech company uses supercomputer simulations to speed up drug discovery and biotech molecule development.
Identifying Cancer Drug Targets Using 3D-Modelling
Researchers are now able to model genetic mutations manipulation of proteins that can potentially drive cancer.
Human Evolution Driven by Viruses
Study finds surprising percentage of protein adaptions in humans have been driven by viruses.
Earliest Sign of Alzheimer's Development Discovered
Researchers have identified the first physiological signs of late-onset Alzheimer's disease, underlining the importance of computational power in neurology.
Computational Method Offers Significant Boost in Finding New Cancer Targets
MIT and ARIAD Pharmaceuticals team have identified evidence of significant cancer mutations.
Scroll Up
Scroll Down
SELECTBIO

SELECTBIO Market Reports
Go to LabTube
Go to eposters
 
Access to the latest scientific news
Exclusive articles
Upload and share your posters on ePosters
Latest presentations and webinars
View a library of 1,800+ scientific and medical posters
3,300+ scientific and medical posters
A library of 2,500+ scientific videos on LabTube
4,900+ scientific videos
Close
Premium CrownJOIN TECHNOLOGY NETWORKS PREMIUM FOR FREE!