Date of Award


Document Type

Campus Access Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)



First Advisor

Richard V. Kesseli

Second Advisor

Michael A. Rex

Third Advisor

Robert D. Stevenson


I evaluated phenotypic variation and geographic distributions to assess status and conservation needs among Zea diploperennis, Zea perennis, Zea luxurians, Zea nicaraguensis, and Zea mays (teosinte) populations. My research mapped previously surveyed teosinte populations in arcGIS and analyzed them by average nearest neighbor analysis. Results indicate a highly clustered pattern (p<0.01) of spatial distribution. Principle component analysis of phenotypic variation reveals three linear combinations of traits that account for 87% of the total variation observed. I compared historical to modern distributions and abundances of teosinte to assess population status and conservation needs. Expert observations report that all populations are in decline, but with varying degree. My research addresses the importance of the rapid evolution and introgressive hybridization found in Zea mays L. spp. mays & Zea mays spp. mexicana by field observation and seed collection in San Filipe and Boyeras, Texcoco, Mexico. I hypothesize that teosinte x maize introgression provides a mechanism for genomic diversity and phenotypic variation found in Zea species. Highlighting introgression as an important process would add value to the protection of wild, "weedy" teosinte populations. Teosinte urgently requires increased in situ conservation efforts.


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