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Origins of Corn

Ed Coe ed at teosinte.agron.missouri.edu
Thu Sep 3 17:48:13 EST 1998

Dear Richard:

Your request to MaizeDB is technical enough; glad to have the chance to

I'm forwarding your inquiry to (1) the maize net, where corn workers
communicate about things, and (2) John Doebley at Minnesota, whose research
area is explicitly in this area.  He may respond to you specifically and may
share his response on the net.

As an armchair-expert in maize ancestry, my evaluation is that there is now
little reason to doubt that corn originated from teosinte (one or a few
particular types) in the wild.  The genetic changes involved were few and
straightforward, and are now pretty well understood genetically and
morphologically.  George Beadle, first a maize geneticist, then a pioneer in
biochemical genetics, then a Nobel laureate, then President of U. of Chicago,
then a maize geneticist and evolutionary biologist, made the necessary
persuasive experiments that have been the ground for current general
acceptance of this origin.  I look forward to comments from other scientists.

Ed Coe

P.S.  "Well sequenced" does not yet describe genomics work on corn; we are
only just getting started on some of the preliminaries toward even selective
sequencing of substantial regions.

-- Curtis Hall, Univ of Missouri, Columbia, MO 65211-7202
Phone 573-882-2768   FAX 573-884-7850   New email Aug 1998 coee at missouri.edu
"Suspended judgment is the greatest triumph of intellectual discipline"
--W.K. Brooks

rlbenedict at amoco.com wrote:

>      This is a non-technical request, but hopefully you might be aware of
>      this topic. In the early '80s when I lived in Hyde Park, a retired
>      George Beadle had a large corn garden in which he was trying to
>      de-hyrbidize (?) corn and figure out its ancestry.  I seem to remember
>      that there were two camps among the geneticists: those who thought
>      corn originated from teosinte and the dissenters.  I think Beadle may
>      have been in the latter camp.  Given the economic importance of corn,
>      my guess is that the corn genome has to be fairly well sequenced.  Do
>      you know if the sequencing efforts have shed any light on this topic?
>      I tried to do a web search myself, but was drowned in data.
>      Thanks for your help.
>      Richard Benedict

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