Friday, December 26, 2014
YOLO COUNTY NEWS
99 CENTS

UCD, Mexico researchers find genetic diversity of maize is declining

By
From page A7 | September 04, 2014 |

The genetic diversity of maize, or corn, is declining in Mexico, where the world’s largest food crop originated, researchers in Mexico and at UC Davis report.

The findings are particularly sobering at a time when agriculturists around the world are looking to the gene pools of staple foods like corn to dramatically increase food production for a global population expected to top 9 billion by 2050.

The new study, which contradicts some earlier and more optimistic assessments of corn diversity in Mexico, appears online this week in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

“For decades, researchers have been trying to ascertain whether crop genetic resources are endangered at their centers of origin,” said study co-author J. Edward Taylor, professor of agricultural economics at UCD. “This is a vital question, because genetic diversity is the basic ingredient for crops to respond to environmental threats ranging from pests to climate change.”

The erosion of crop genetic resources has been a concern since the 1940s, when serious conservation efforts began. This study — the first to examine changes in maize diversity across Mexico — compares maize diversity estimates from 38 case studies over the past 15 years with data from farmers throughout Mexico.

“The question of diversity finally can be answered for maize, thanks to a unique database gathered through this binational project,” said lead author George A. Dyer of El Colegio de México, in Mexico City.

“Sadly, we found that earlier on-farm assessments of maize diversity in Mexico are seriously flawed and conceal a widespread genetic erosion that could hamper efforts to improve food security in the face of global climate change and population growth.”

The researchers warn that as the impacts of climate change intensify, yields from currently cultivated maize varieties likely will decline. Unless farmers have access to genetic resources that will equip them to restore yields to profitable levels, many of them may abandon agriculture at a time when there is a growing need to boost global food production.

They stress that there likely are multiple causes for the decline in genetic diversity in maize and identifying those causes will be crucial for future conservation efforts.

Other researchers on the study are Antonio Yúnez-Naude of El Colegio de México, Mexico, and Alejandro López-Feldman of the Centro de Investigación y Docencia Económicas, Mexico.

Funding for the study was provided by the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, the Ford Foundation and the Giannini Foundation of Agricultural Economics.

— UC Davis News

Comments

comments

  • Recent Posts

  • Enter your email address to subscribe to this newspaper and receive notifications of new articles by email.

  • .

    News

    Transit survey: 47 percent ride bikes to UCD campus

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A1 | Gallery

     
    Exchange students bring the world to Davis

    By Anne Ternus-Bellamy | From Page: A1 | Gallery

     
    Pastor has many plans for CA House

    By Jeff Hudson | From Page: A1 | Gallery

    Playing Santa

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A2 | Gallery

     
    Goats help recycle Christmas trees

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A2 | Gallery

     
    Special holiday gifts

    By Sue Cockrell | From Page: A3

    Woodland-Davis commute bus service expands

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3

     
    Learn fruit tree tips at free class

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3

    Davis Bike Club hears about British cycling tour

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3

     
    Pick up a Davis map at Chamber office

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3

    Sierra Club calendars on sale Saturday

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3

     
    Explorit: Get a rise out of science

    By Lisa Justice | From Page: A4

    NAMI meeting offers family support

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A6

     
    Yoga, chanting intro offered

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A8

    .

    Forum

    Blamed for her sister’s rage

    By Creators Syndicate | From Page: B5

     
    How much for the calling birds?

    By Creators Syndicate | From Page: B5

    Steve Sack cartoon

    By Debbie Davis | From Page: A10

     
    Many ensured a successful parade

    By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A10

     
    Thanks for putting food on the table

    By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A10

     
    .

    Sports

     
    Two more for the road for 9-1 Aggie men

    By Bruce Gallaudet | From Page: B1 | Gallery

    Patterson is college football’s top coach

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B1 | Gallery

     
    Clippers get a win over Golden State

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B1 | Gallery

    NBA roundup: Heat beat Cavs in LeBron’s return to Miami

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B10 | Gallery

     
    .

    Features

    .

    Arts

    ‘Unbroken': A bit underwhelming

    By Derrick Bang | From Page: A11 | Gallery

     
    Folk musicians will jam on Jan. 2

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A11

    .

    Business

    Passat: Roomy, affordable sedan with German engineering

    By Ann M. Job | From Page: B3 | Gallery

     
    .

    Obituaries

    James J. Dunning Jr.

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A4

     
    Floyd W. Fenocchio

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A4

    .

    Comics

    Comics: Friday, December 26, 2014 (set 2)

    By Creator | From Page: B7

     
    Comics: Thursday, December 26, 2014 (set 1)

    By Creator | From Page: A9