Natural teosinte‑corn hybrids in Guatemala.
Teosinte occurs as a weed in corn fields over extended areas in the Jutiapa ‑ Progresso ‑ Lake Retana area in south central Guatemala and in the San Antonio Huixta area in the northwestern part of the country. Botanists who have visited these areas, including Weatherwax, Kempton and Popenoe, noted the absence of hybrids in the fields where corn and teosinte were growing together and flowering at the same time. This was surprising in view of the fact that the two species were known to hybridize readily under controlled conditions and their hybrids are fully fertile.
The Jutiapa ‑ Progresso ‑ Lake Retana area was visited in November, 1946, with Dr. I. E. Melhus, Director of the Iowa‑Guatemala Tropical Research Center. A thorough search for natural hybrids was made in corn fields containing teosinte as a weed extending for 40 kilometers along the highways in this area. No hybrids were discovered. Extensive collections of corn and teosinte seed were made from these fields and it is planned to grow this seed to determine whether natural crossing occurred during the current season in fields observed to have corn and teosinte of the same stage of maturity growing in juxtaposition.
Subsequently, the San Antonio Huixta region was visited together with Dr. George Semenuik. As a result of an extended search in this area approximately 30 hybrid plants were discovered. With very few exceptions all of these plants apparently were first generation hybrids having typical four‑rowed ears. One hybrid plant with eight‑rowed ears and one with predominantly two‑rowed ears similar to the teosinte parent were found. Open-pollinated seed from these plants was harvested for a study of the progeny.