Maize genetic diversity in traditionally cultivated polycultures in an isolated rural community in Mexico: implications for management and sustainability

Karla Y. Leyva-Madrigal, P. A. Báez-Astorga, S. Negrete-Yankelevich, A. Núñez-de la Mora, G. Amescua-Villela, I. E. Maldonado-Mendoza

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    Abstract

    Background: Maize in Mexico exhibits great genetic diversity, maintained by traditional practices of indigenous and non-indigenous communities, the same practices that have led to crop diversification over centuries. As one of the main staple crops worldwide, safeguarding the genetic diversity of maize is paramount to food security. Aims: This study evaluated the genetic diversity and population structure of traditionally cultured maize landraces in a rural seasonal agricultural community in Veracruz, Mexico, in order to learn how traditional practices shape these landraces, and propose strategies for their preservation. Methods: We analysed 118 individual maize samples belonging to five morphotypes (white, yellow, black, red and mottled) with eight microsatellite markers. Results: We encountered high genetic diversity, according to expected heterozygosity (He = 0.61). However, inbreeding coefficient and gene flow values suggested the existence of assortative mating, which causes low genetic differentiation. Population structure analysis identified three genetic pools, independent of grain colour. These findings suggest that all morphotypes belong to the same population, which is sub-structured due to assortative mating and gene flow related to local agronomic management. Conclusions: Current management practices in this community could lead to genetic erosion. In order to preserve diversity, wider regional seed exchange and selection for morphological diversity could be implemented.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)15-28
    Number of pages14
    JournalPlant Ecology and Diversity
    Volume13
    Issue number1
    DOIs
    StateAccepted/In press - 1 Jan 2020

    Keywords

    • Agrodiversity
    • landraces
    • milpas
    • native crops
    • Zea mays

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