Climate change is predicted to disrupt patterns of local adaptation in wild and cultivated maize

Jonás A. Aguirre-Liguori, Santiago Ramírez-Barahona, Peter Tiffin, Luis E. Eguiarte

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32 Scopus citations


Climate change is one of the most important threats to biodiversity and crop sustainability. The impact of climate change is often evaluated on the basis of expected changes in species' geographical distributions. Genomic diversity, local adaptation, and migration are seldom integrated into future species projections. Here, we examine how climate change will impact populations of two wild relatives of maize, the teosintes Zea mays ssp. mexicana and Z. mays ssp. parviglumis. Despite high levels of genetic diversity within populations and widespread future habitat suitability, we predict that climate change will alter patterns of local adaptation and decrease migration probabilities in more than two-thirds of present-day teosinte populations. These alterations are geographically heterogeneous and suggest that the possible impacts of climate change will vary considerably among populations. The population-specific effects of climate change are also evident in maize landraces, suggesting that climate change may result in maize landraces becoming maladapted to the climates in which they are currently cultivated. The predicted alterations to habitat distribution, migration potential, and patterns of local adaptation in wild and cultivated maize raise a red flag for the future of populations. The heterogeneous nature of predicted populations' responses underscores that the selective impact of climate change may vary among populations and that this is affected by different processes, including past adaptation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number20190486
JournalProceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences
Issue number1906
StatePublished - Jul 10 2019

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This study was funded by CONACYT Investigaci?n Cient?fica B?sica CB2011-167826 and SEP-CONACYT-ANUIES-ECOS France M12-A03-CONACYT-ANUIES 207571 granted to L.E.E.; and postdoctoral fellowship from DGAPA-UNAM granted to S.R.-B.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2019 The Author(s) Published by the Royal Society. All rights reserved.


  • Climate change
  • Genomics
  • Global warming
  • Local adaptation
  • Migration


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