Corn is one of the most widespread types of cereal, as it can grow both on arid lands and rain privileged grounds. 10.000 years ago, corn did not exist. Instead, the so called teosinte plant was spread across large territories and underwent a mutation that completely changed the data of the equation. The green husks which surrounded the soon to be ex teosinte plant disappeared and the plant started its extensive evolution into what we nowadays know as corn.
It seems that the mutation happened in a single letter in the plant’s extensive string of DNA. We all know that DNA structures look like twisted ladders an each and every structure of the ladder is made up of four types of molecules also known as nucleotides. The nucleotides are defined by the letters G, A, T and C and they code the way living things look and function.
The recent finding unveils once more the complexity of the molecular makeup of life. A single molecule can change the face and structure of entire living organisms.
An immense proportion of our world is economically dependent on corn, as there are more than 80 million acres in the US which host the evolution of our most common cereal. The seemingly sophisticated grain is found in almost everything Americans eat, the more so sugar cane has been replaced by high fructose corn syrup.
The genetic structure of corn still meets changes, as plants mingle and combine their powers to become completely new structures of vegetal life.
Scientists reveal that the resourceful grain has started with extremely humble beginnings. The plant comes from lands of Mexico and has been domesticated no less than 10.000 years ago. After hundreds of years of artificial selection and many phases of mutation, the plant managed to grow extremely tall and developed broader leaves. Cristopher Columbus was the first one to put his hands on the magic grain, taking a pocket full of the peculiar and delicious plant seeds back to European territories.
Experts managed to map and separate the genomes of entire generations of teosinte plants and have set up molecular markers in the data to find out proofs revealing which gene controls what physical trait. Scientists found the specific nucleotide that, subjected to change, resulted in the complete disappearance of husk and birth of what we nowadays call corn.
Image Source: cornsuits.com