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One Nucleotide Change Makes Edible Corn:

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One Nucleotide Change Makes Edible Corn:

Post by Sk on Sat Jul 18, 2015 6:56 am

The natural ancestor of corn, a wild grass called
teosinte, would have been much more difficult to
eat than the crop we know and love today. For
one thing, its kernels are encased by a hard outer
shell inedible by humans. “Humans completely reshaped the ancestor of
corn, effectively turning the cob inside out. Our
results show that a small genetic change has had
a big effect on this remarkable transformation,”
John Doebley, a plant geneticist at the University
of Wisconsin–Madison. Studies done over the last few decades indicated
that transforming the single stalk of tough
kernels with no central cob into the corn we know
today required alterations in just six genes—one
of which, tga1, is a master regulator of other
genes involved in making the kernel casing. Doebley and his colleagues at Wisconsin–Madison
and DuPont Pioneer compared the tga1
sequences from 16 teosinte and 20 corn varieties
and found that one nucleotide replacement (C to
G) converted a lysine to an asparagine in the
gene’s protein product. The corn version of the protein was also more prone to forming dimers
that repressed their gene targets, whereas the
teosinte version was more likely to activate its
targets. “This result begins to unravel a potential cascade
of gene expression changes that accompanies the
alteration of a major domestication gene,” the
researchers wrote in their paper.
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