Economic Botany

, Volume 42, Issue 1, pp 120-131

First online:

The origin of cornbelt maize: The isozyme evidence

  • John DoebleyAffiliated withDepartment of Botany, University of Minnesota
  • , Jonathan D. WendelAffiliated withDepartment of Botany, Iowa State University
  • , J. S. C. SmithAffiliated withDivision of Plant Breeding, Pioneer Hi-Bred, International
  • , Charles W. StuberAffiliated withDepartment of Genetics and USDA-ARS, North Carolina State University
  • , Major M. GoodmanAffiliated withDepartment of Crop Science, North Carolina State University

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Historical records show t hat the Midwestern dent corns of the United States originated from hybridization of two landraces, Northern Flint and Southern Dent. We examined the origin of Southern and Midwestern Dents by means of isozyme electrophoresis. Isozyme genotypes were determined for 23 loci in 12 plants each of 32 accessions of Southern Dent. Previously published isozyme data for maize landraces of Mexico and North America and for U.S. Midwestern Dents were included for comparative purposes. The data show that Northern Flint and Southern Dent are among the isozymically most divergent maize landraces. Nei’s genetic identities between populations of these two landraces are very low for conspecific populations (ca. 0.80). Southern Dent of the southeastern U.S. appears closely related to similar dent corns of southern Mexico, supporting a previously published hypothesis that U.S. Southern Dent is largely derived from the dent corns of southern Mexico. The Midwestern Dents, which resulted from crosses of Southern Dent and Northern Flint, are much more like Southern Dent than Northern Flint in their isozyme profile. Similarly, public inbreds show greater affinity to Southern Dent with the exception of sweet corn lines, which resemble Northern Flint in their isozyme allele frequencies. North American public inbreds do not contain appreciable isozymic variation beyond that found in Northern Flint and Southern Dent.