Jeremy’s latest podcast is out, and it’s a doozie. Plus it saves me adding it to the next Brainfood, which is coming soon, don’t worry people.
Modern maize has long been a puzzle. Unlike other domesticated grasses, there didn’t seem to be any wild species that looked like the modern cereal and from which farmers could have selected better versions. For a long time, botanists weren’t even sure which continent maize was from. That seemed to be settled with the discovery in lowland Mexico of teosinte, a wild and weedy relative of maize. But there was a problem. A lot of the later genetic work to understand the transformation of teosinte into maize found remnants of different types of teosinte.
Jeffrey Ross-Ibarra and his colleagues have sorted out the story, which is now more complicated, better understood, and offers some hope for future maize breeding. Their paper was published last week in Science.