Keepers of maize in Chiapas, Mexico

Mauricio R. Bellon, Stephen B. Brush

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

150 Scopus citations


This study concerns the knowledge and selection of biological diversity of maize (Zea mays) within its center of domestication in Mesoamerica. Maize farmers in central Chiapas of Southern México keep local varieties (landraces) belonging to six races and four race mixtures. Fifteen local varieties are recognized. In spite of widespread adoption of a modern, high yielding variety, maize farmers continue to select local varieties for specific soils and because of agronomic and use criteria. Farmers maintain maize varieties primarily through seed selection. Spatial and temporal separation do not seem sufficient to maintain varieties. The management of improved varieties can lead from a uniform population to a heterogeneous one as hybridization with local maize populations occurs.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)196-209
Number of pages14
JournalEconomic Botany
Issue number2
StatePublished - Apr 1994
Externally publishedYes


  • biological diversity
  • Chiapas
  • human selection
  • maiz
  • races of maize

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Plant Science
  • Horticulture


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