Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Does Corn Prove Others Were in the Land of Promise When Lehi Landed? – Part II

Continuing from the previous post regarding whether or not the presence of corn among the Nephites proves that a previous people occupied the Land of Promise at the time Nephi arrived. 
    In the previous post we discussed, in part, the progenitor of maize (corn), which is teosinte (pronounced “tee-a-sin-tey). We also discussed Dr. Beadle’s discovery of the five genes needed to transform teosinte into maize.
    Ao, after Beadle’s discovery, using more-modern techniques, another group of scientists analyzed the DNA from teosinte-maize offspring. They too noticed that about 5 regions of the genome (which could be single genes or groups of genes) seemed to be controlling the most-significant differences between teosinte and maize. In recent years, geneticists have used advanced molecular-biology tools to pinpoint the roles of some of the genes with large effects, as well as many other regions across the genome that have had subtle effects on maize domestication.
    According to John F. Doebley, a botanicalgeneticist whose main area of interest is how genes drive plant development and evolution, stated that their research team “found modest evidence for postdomesitcation gene flow from teosinte into maize.” He also claimed that there is also a more distantly related teosinte (Z. mays ssp. huehuetenangensis), also found in Ecuador, Peru and Western Bolivia and a few in northern Chile, as well as Mexico, Central- and Mesoamerica.
Smithsonian Researcher, Dolores Piperno, holds a teosinte plant in a field of teosinte where she did research on the plant

According to Kirstin Fawcett, in a 2013 study published in the Quaternary International journal, archaeobotanist  Dolores Piperno, a researcher working at the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute’s field station in Gamboa, Panama, suggested that studies showed that phenotype plasticity, or changes in appearances in the plant in response to its environment, “can cause two genetically identical organisms to look different if grown in separate conditions.” As a result, under past environmental conditions, she and her colleagues say, that “teosinte looked far different than it does today and more closely resembled modern-day corn than it does now.”
    In a green-house experiment mimicking much earlier environments than those of the past two millennia, Piperno and her colleagues grew teosinte plants, and found that in the one where the environment was the most different, comparable to much earlier temperatures and growth periods, the teosinte plant grew much like maize, with several short branches and ears. “The seeds were also different,” Piperno stated, “unlike wild teosinte seeds, which mature sequentially, all the seeds in the experimental plants matured all at the same time, similar to corn kernels, or seeds.”
    According to this experiment, which produced fewer branches, along with easily visible seeds, no doubt would have made the teosinte plan easier to harvest—a result that researchers have previously believed resulted in human selection and domestication, but in reality, occurred naturally in nature.
    Obviously, this result from environmental changes inducing phenotypic plasticity may well shed light on why early farmers chose to cultivate it.
The earliest events in maize domestication likely involved small changes to single genes with dramatic effects, in a process called introgression (movement of one gene from one species into the gene pool of another) and would have taken place without human direct interference in the introgressive hybridization. According to Richard Buggs, it can occur across hybrid zones due to chance, selection or hybrid zone movement ("Empirical study of hybrid zone movement," Heredity, 99 (3), 2007, pp301-312).
    Today, while some farmers consider teosintes as a weed, others consider it beneficial to plants next to its maize fields to encourage its introgression into their maize plants. According to Yoshihiro Matsuoka, of the Fukui Preferctura University, claims that eividence shows there exists extraordinary morphological and genetic diversity among the maize landraces that were developed by pre-Columbian cultivators, and were the products of multiple independent domestications from their wild teosinte relative.
The natural domestication of teosinte into maize

Matsuoka states further that while most cultivars arose in cultivation, a few were from the wild. In fact, he lists the three types of maize in the pre-Columbian Americas:
1. An Andean group, that includes the hand-grenade-shaped ear types and some other Andean maize (35 plants);
2. All other South American and Mexican maize (80 plants);
3. U.S. maize (40 plants)
    According to Matsuoka, the maize of the Andes Mountains with its distinctive hand grenade-shaped ears was derived from the maize of lowland South America (Matsuoka, Vigouroux, Goodman, Sanchez, Buckler and Doebley). In fact, “A single domestication for maize is shown by multilocus micorsalettite genotyping” (Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 99 (9), 2002, pp6080–608).
    Today it is known that the events were early because there is little variation in these genes between maize varieties, suggesting that modern varieties are descended from a single ancestor. That the small changes had dramatic effects also explains the sudden appearance of maize in the archaeological record. These examples show us that evolution doesn't always involve gradual change over long periods of time.
All of this suggests that Sorenson’s claim that Lehi found other people in the land because “who else would have introduced the Nephites to corn (maize)?” is a non-factor. Even his “clinching argument” of pointing out that corn is a domesticated crop and does not grow wild, stating “Lehi could only find corn in this new world if there was already a people here who were cultivating it.”
    This opens the door to several comments, not the least of which is the fact that we do not know if Lehi had corn, or if the Nephites in the city of Nephi had corn before Mosiah left and discovered Zarahemla. We only know that corn is mentioned after Zeniff returned from the city of Zarahemla and resettled in the city of Nephi, never before.
    Maize was further domesticated by either the people of Zarahemla, or seeds given to the Mulekites by the Jaredite Coriantumr before his death (or shown them how to domesticate the wild teosinte during his nine months living with them), or by the Nephites themselves, but the first mention of corn is not until after Mosiah had discovered Zarahemla and Zeniff had with him when he returned to the city of Nephi and planted “seeds of corn, and of wheat, and of barley, and with neas, and with sheum, and with seeds of all manner of fruits” (Mosiah 9:9).
    Thus it cannot be said, as Sorenson does, that because corn existed in the scriptural record of the Nephites, that Lehi was given corn by people already in the Land of Promise when he arrived who had already been cultivating it.

1 comment:

  1. In Jacob 5:25 allegory of the olive tree the Lord tells us he planted the Nephites and Lamanites in a "Good spot of Ground". What does it mean a good spot of ground? It means there was not a single person in South America that was not brought there by the Lord. John Sorenson has no understanding of what this scripture means. I find that true of many of the professors at BYU. They make it all up thinking they know so much more than the Lord.

    Your research Del confirms what the scriptures are telling us. There wasn't any other people on that island in South America until the Lord brought in the Spanish.