Most of us are interested in the corn plant as a whole but it is clearly an expression of its parts and those parts are an extension of the smallest parts, the cells. Cell function is dictated ultimately by components of the cell nucleus especially the DNA. The process of transforming a string of chemical compounds, the nucleic acids into ultimate structure and function of any living organism is amazing- or should we say: ‘a-maize-ing’.
DNA in each of the 10 chromosomes of each living cell of corn is composed 2 strands of DNA wound around each other. Each string is composed of nucleotides. Each nucleotide is composed of a sugar molecule of deoxyribose , a phosphoric acid molecule and a nitrogen molecule. There are 4 nucleotide molecule: Thymine, Cytosine, Adenine and Guanine. These are abbreviated as T,C,A and G. The sequence of these nucleotides in the DNA ultimately determine a gene and its product.
An enzyme causes the two strands of DNA to separate briefly to begin the RNA replica of a group of the DNA nucleotides. Some codes in the DNA called starter codes become the beginning of the RNA. The replication continues until it reaches another code called the stop code. This new RNA, strand migrates from the nucleus into the cell cytoplasm. It is called messenger RNA or mRNA as it is conveying genetic information to the ribosome in the cell.
The ribosome imports amino acids that are attached to each other according to the RNA nucleotide sequence. The string of different amino acids become a protein. The proteins enzymatic potential is determined by the sequence of the amino acids. This enzymatic power affects all other chemical processes needed for the living function.
We need to think both small and large about the corn plant.
About Corn Journal
The purpose of this blog is to share perspectives of the biology of corn, its seed and diseases in a mix of technical and not so technical terms with all who are interested in this major crop. With more technical references to any of the topics easily available on the web with a search of key words, the blog will rarely cite references but will attempt to be accurate. Comments are welcome but will be screened before publishing. Comments and questions directed to the author by emails are encouraged.