GDCB Seminar - Matthew Hufford, ISU

Tuesday, January 10, 2017 - 4:10pm
Event Type: 

Matthew Hufford

Department of Ecology, Evolution and Organismal Biology


Matthew Hufford

Demography and Adaptation during Maize Expansion across the Americas

Maize, like many crop species, colonized a much larger area following its domestication in southwest Mexico. This period of expansion involved complex demographic changes and required adaptation to novel environments including multiple high-elevation regions. Based on high-depth re-sequencing data from 31 maize landrace genomes spanning the Americas, we have investigated how demography and adaptation have shaped the maize genome during its spread away from Mexico. We reveal a continuous genetic bottleneck in maize landraces starting from approximately 10,000 BP and lasting to 1,000 BP, with decreasing genetic diversity in maize with increasing distance from its center of origin. Andean landraces, at the expansion wave front, exhibit the lowest diversity, the highest level of derived homozygous genotypes and runs of homozygosity, and the highest genetic load.  Previously detected introgression from teosinte (Zea mays ssp. mexicana) into Mexican highland landraces was also confirmed and unreported introgression was found extending  into the Guatemalan highlands and the southwestern US. Our data suggest this introgression has conferred high-elevation adaptation to maize in Mesoamerica but that a novel  process of adaptation characterizes maize in the high elevations of the Andes.

Refreshments will be served at 3:45 in the MBB atrium before the seminar.

Host: Eve Wurtele (

Biographical Information

Matt joined the faculty of EEOB as an Assistant Professor in the Fall of 2013. Matt's research spans both the evolution and ecology of crops and their wild relatives with a particular focus on maize and the teosintes. Current research in the Hufford Lab is focused on the demography and local adaptation of ancient farmer varieties of maize known as "landraces", the evolutionary significance of gene flow across taxa in the genus Zea, and genome assembly and comparative genomics of teosinte and the basal grass species Streptochaeta angustifolia.

Area of Expertise: 

  • Evolutionary Genomics
  • Population Genetics

Interdepartmental Programs: 


  • B.S., Biology, Wheaton College, 1999
  • M.S., International Agricultural Development, UC Davis, 2010
  • Ph.D., Ecology, UC Davis, 2010