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Comp Funct Genomics. Apr 2004; 5(3): 281–284.
PMCID: PMC2447450
On the Tetraploid Origin of the Maize Genome
Zuzana Swigonova,corresponding author1 Jinsheng Lai,1 Jianxin Ma,2,3 Wusirika Ramakrishna,2,4 Victor Llaca,1,5 Jeffrey L. Bennetzen,2,3 and Joachim Messing1
1 Waksman Institute of Microbiology, Rutgers University, 190 Frelinghuysen Road, Piscataway, NJ, 08854-8020, USA,
2 Department of Biological Sciences and Genetics Program, West Lafayette, IN, 47907-2072, USA,
3 Department of Genetics, University of Georgia, Athens, GA, 30602, USA,
4 Department of Biological Sciences, Michigan Tech University, 740 DOW, 1400 Townsend Drive, MI, 49931, USA,
5 Analytical and Genomic Technologies, Crop Genetics R & D, DuPont Agriculture & Nutrition, Wilmington, DE, 19880-0353, USA,
Zuzana Swigonova, zswigon/at/
corresponding authorCorresponding author.
Received January 26, 2004; Revised January 29, 2004; Accepted February 3, 2004.
Data from cytological and genetic mapping studies suggest that maize arose as a tetraploid. Two previous studies investigating the most likely mode of maize origin arrived at different conclusions. Gaut and Doebley [7] proposed a segmental allotetraploid origin of the maize genome and estimated that the two maize progenitors diverged at 20.5 million years ago (mya). In a similar study, using larger data set, Brendel and colleagues (quoted in [8]) suggested a single genome duplication at 16 mya. One of the key components of such analyses is to examine sequence divergence among strictly orthologous genes. In order to identify such genes, Lai and colleagues [10] sequenced five duplicated chromosomal regions from the maize genome and the orthologous counterparts from the sorghum genome. They also identified the orthologous regions in rice. Using positional information of genetic components, they identified 11 orthologous genes across the two duplicated regions of maize, and the sorghum and rice regions. Swigonova et al. [12] analyzed the 11 orthologues, and showed that all five maize chromosomal regions duplicated at the same time, supporting a tetraploid origin of maize, and that the two maize progenitors diverged from each other at about the same time as each of them diverged from sorghum, about 11.9 mya.
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