Wild Grass and Corn
1522 of 3588

Wild Grass and Corn

July 27, 2010
Illustration showing wild grass Balsas teosinte (left), identified as an ancestor of maize by researchers, and modern corn.

Indigenous peoples living in the lowland areas of southwestern Mexico may have cultivated corn, or maize, more than 8,700 years ago according to research. Molecular biologists recently identified a large, wild grass called Balsas teosinte as the ancestor of maize. The suppression of branching from the stalk resulted in a lower number of ears per plant but allows each ear to grow larger. The hard case around the kernel disappeared over time. Today, maize has just a few ears of corn growing on one unbranched stalk.

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