I have 10 seeds of a rare corn landrace. I probably won't be able to acquire more and the cultigen's long term fate is unknown. So, I want to do my best to preserve it for future generations.

Corn is largely out-breeding and used to growing in very large populations, so it's very susceptible to inbreeding depression. The seed I got came from a small but reasonably heterozygous, healthy population with a modest/good amount of diversity.

If I want to preserve the corn without crossing it to anything else, what should I do?

My thoughts are that I have to ensure that it does not breed true for maladaptive recessive alleles. So, I plan to increase seed stock until I have enough genetic material to grow out thousands of individuals and cull any sick plants over several generations, while trying to keep the population contributing to the next generation large. In other words, purging the poor genetics.

I also thought it might be a good idea to breed a few lines from the initial stock to ensure even more diversity.

Is my plan viable? What are my chances of success? Are there any better protocols?


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    $\begingroup$ I don't suppose you have the space for rudimentary cloning tech handy? Just a thought, but keeping some of the original plants handy in slow-growth mode might help with later crosses. $\endgroup$ Oct 18, 2021 at 0:46
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    $\begingroup$ @ARogueAnt. As a matter of fact, I do. That is a very good idea. Thanks. $\endgroup$
    – JOhnny
    Oct 18, 2021 at 17:58

1 Answer 1


After planting the 10 seeds, manually cross-pollinate the plants with each other to ensure that (1) there's no self pollination, (2) every seed contributes equally to the gene pool, and (3) no foreign pollen contaminates your gene pool.

Cross plant 1 with plant 2, plant 2 with plant 3, plant 3 with plant 4, plant 4 with plant 5, ... and plant 10 with plant 1. Then you can pick an equal number of seeds from each cob to build a population from which you can start eliminating weak or off-type plants.

(A second round of controlled cross-pollination to ensure that seeds from the same cob don't cross pollinate may not be a bad idea: cross plant 1x2 with plant 3x4, 2x3 with 4x5, 3x4 with 5x6, ... and 9x10 with 1x2)

Controlled crossing ensures that no "good genes" from the initial set of seeds are lost by accident.


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