Mutations, mostly not obvious
Diversity among humans is obvious to us as our tendency is to look for physical features that are easily seen. But real diversity is hidden by those obvious features as internal differences and culture are the real diversity. Corn diversity affected by mutations in DNA and RNA for multiple differences in adaptation to environments and the balance we demand between for grain production, quality and harvestability. Some are obvious but much goes unseen.
Not only are small changes in ‘error’ in duplication of chromosomal DNA significant but RNA, the chain of nucleic acids transferring the codes from the chromosomes to the ribosomes for protein construction, can have their own errors. In both cases, proteins essential for some physiological process can be affected. Transportation of glucose to roots, production of new cells or number of stomates can be affected, causing drastic affects on final performance of the corn plant.
Production of the components that allow the recognition of microbe-associated molecular patterns is an example of an essential physiological component to the plant being able to respond to a pathogen attack. Critical mutations in production of this system are an import component to resistance systems.
Corn’s exposure to multiple environments allows us to discard those with detrimental mutants, accounting for the relatively short life of any commercial hybrids. Fortunately, the long, varied history of this annual crop has allowed for a vast genetic base to draw upon for new genetic combinations, and mutations, to draw upon for final performance in expected environments of the next season.
Just as in humans, some of those obvious, visible trait difference do not predict the inner differences. It is performance that is importance.
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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.