Plant Biology in Sub-Saharan Africa
Magorokosho, Cosmos , Warburton, M. , Banziger, M. , Betran, J. , Dreisigacker, S. .
The Introduction of Maize in Africa and Current Levels of Diversity in Zimbabwe, Zambia and Malawi.
Maize is Africa’s most important cereal crop. Although maize hybrids represent the most economically important portion of the species, landraces contain the majority of the diversity found in maize, much of which has never been incorporated into improved varieties. European explorers, mainly the Portuguese introduced maize in southern Africa beginning in the 16th century and since then the crop has replaced sorghum and millet as the main staple. Maize populations were introduced from the central America, the Caribbean, and southern USA following a complicated pattern of diffusion. Local maize populations have now been cultivated and submitted to natural and human selection in different environments and cultural methods in Zimbabwe, Zambia and Malawi for more than 100 years. These local populations could offer new alleles for abiotic stress tolerance. Phenotypic and molecular characterization of southern African maize for traits important to breeders and farmers has not been done. A study was conducted to compliment the global picture of maize diversity and spread by collecting and analyzing the diversity of maize populations from different agro-ecological zones in southern Africa that have not been represented in previous work by CIMMYT. The study revealed considerable variation for phenological, morphological and agronomic characters, and inter-relationships among the landraces and their commercial counterparts. Results also showed high levels of molecular diversity between landraces originating from different growing environments and between landraces and commercially-bred varieties. Molecular data also revealed that the genetic diversity introduced from the original gene pool from the USA about 100 years ago is still found in both the descendant landraces and commercially-bred varieties. This characterization data provides useful historical information on the diffusion of maize in southern Africa and information for utilizing these populations in genomic studies and breeding efforts to create drought tolerant maize.
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1 - International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center (CIMMYT), Global Maize Program, Zimbabwe, Mexico and Kenya
2 - International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center (CIMMYT), Global Maize Program
3 - Texas A& M University
Presentation Type: ASPB Major Symposium
Location: International Ballroom/Hilton
Date: Sunday, July 8th, 2007
Time: 9:40 AM