New research published this week identifies the genomic features that could have made domestication possible for corn and soybeans, two of the world's most critical crop species.
The research, published in the peer-reviewed academic journal has implications for how scientists understand domestication, cultivation. The researchers drew vast amounts of data on genomes of corn and soybeans and compared particular sections of the genomes of wild species and domestic varieties, noting where the genomes diverged most markedly
Iowa State University researchers worked with scientists from the University of Georgia, Cornell University and the University of Minnesota. The researchers studied more than 1
Human culture created a bottleneck in the genetic material associated with corn and soybeans, Yu said. As humans selected for particular traits they found desirable in their crops, they limited the genetic variation available in the plant's genome. However, the researchers found several areas in the genome of the species involved in the study where genome divergence seemed to concentrate
"These patterns in genome-wide base changes offer insight into how domestication affects genetics of species," said Jinyu Wang, the first author of the paper and a graduate student in agronomy.
Variation in nucleotide bases between wild and domesticated species appeared more pronounced in non-genic portions of genomes, or parts of genomes that do not code for proteins. The study also found greater variation in the pericentromeric regions, or in areas near the centromere of chromosomes, and in areas of high methylation or areas in which methyl groups are added to a DNA molecule.
The study looked at the occurrence of mutations in the genomes of domesticated crops and their progenitor species
"We now think that good candidates for domestication, such as corn and soybeans, occupy a middle ground in their willingness to mutate, "said Xianran Li, Associate Professor of Agronomy and a co-responsible author of the study
" If there is no mutation, then everything stays the same and we do not have evolution, "Yu said. "But too many mutations can wipe out a species."
The study's findings have highlighted important links between UV radiation from sun and genome evolution. UV radiation is a natural mutagen, and it leaves a special footprint when it occurs, Yu said. The study's authors found many more of these footprints in modern corn and soybeans than their wild relatives.
Corn genetics provides insight into the crop's historical spread throughout the Americas
Research sheds light on genomic features that make plants good candidates for domestication (2019, April 24)
retrieved 25 April 2019
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