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Mercer Laboratory

College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences


Natural and human mediated evolution of maize landraces in Mexico

Natural and human mediated processes have shaped crops grown throughout the world. In crop centers of origin where landraces still grown, we can investigate how farmers and environmental conditions have collaborated to produce the crop diversity that exists on the landscape. However, in this time of rapid global change, it is also important to consider how this diversity will respond to future climatic and technological change. We study patterns of local adaptation and potential for evolution of maize landraces along environmental gradients in southern Mexico to help elucidate how the productivity of these populations will be affected by a warmer future. Further, we study the opportunities for landraces to evolve in the face of climate change. Finally, we study the debates about the introduction of transgenes into landrace maize populations. This work involves collaborations with Dr. Hugo Perales (El Colegio de la Frontera Sur, Chiapas, Mexico) and Dr. Joel Wainwright (Ohio State University, Columbus).