Study Says U.S. First Home Of Sunflowers

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BLOOMINGTON, Ind., Aug. 15 (UPI) — U.S. biologists say they’ve proven the modern sunflower was domesticated in the Unites States, not in Mexico as some scientists had believed.

“Our results affirm that the eastern United States was an independent center of plant domestication and that all known living cultivated sunflowers shared a common origin there,” Indiana University biology doctoral graduate Benjamin Blackman said.

Recently identified early domestication genes of the sunflower, Helianthus annuus, show no DNA evidence to support suggestions based on archaeological evidence that a second, independent domestication event had occurred in Mexico, an IU release said Monday.

Controversy began when sunflower seeds were found at pre-Columbian archaeological sites and it was proposed that, along with being domesticated in eastern North America, an independent sunflower domestication occurred in Mexico.

The Indiana study looked at 60 sunflower populations from the United States and Canada and 31 from Mexico.

“Even though we made extensive new collections of wild and cultivated sunflowers native to Mexico that for the first time provided us with a powerful sample to test for a second origin, our results from multiple types of genetic data found strong evidence for just a single origin,” Blackman said.

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