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Investigation of the bottleneck leading to the domestication of maize

By Adam Eyre-Walker, Rebecca L Gaut, Holly Hilton, Dawn L Feldman and Brandon S Gaut


Maize (Zea mays ssp. mays) is genetically diverse, yet it is also morphologically distinct from its wild relatives. These two observations are somewhat contradictory: the first observation is consistent with a large historical population size for maize, but the latter observation is consistent with strong, diversity-limiting selection during maize domestication. In this study, we sampled sequence diversity, coupled with simulations of the coalescent process, to study the dynamics of a population bottleneck during the domestication of maize. To do this, we determined the DNA sequence of a 1,400-bp region of the Adh1 locus from 19 individuals representing maize, its presumed progenitor (Z. mays ssp. parviglumis), and a more distant relative (Zea luxurians). The sequence data were used to guide coalescent simulations of population bottlenecks associated with domestication. Our study confirms high genetic diversity in maize¿maize contains 75% of the variation found in its progenitor and is more diverse than its wild relative, Z. luxurians¿but it also suggests that sequence diversity in maize can be explained by a bottleneck of short duration and very small size. For example, the breadth of genetic diversity in maize is consistent with a founding population of only 20 individuals when the domestication event is 10 generations in length

Publisher: National Academy of Sciences
Year: 1998
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