There’s a lot of corn news this week, some of it related to Thanksgiving but mainly because researchers have just decoded the DNA of corn. Apparently, corn has a pretty complex genome and it’s giving scientists a lot of new information.
The basics: Corn has 32,000 genes packed into 10 chromosomes (humans have 20,000 genes spread among 23 chromosomes). About 85 percent of the corn DNA has these segments that are repeated; that compares to only about 45 percent of human’s DNA. Reports also said there’s a surprisingly huge difference between two corn varieties, (as much as the genetic difference between humans and chimpanzees!).
Now that researchers know corn’s DNA sequence, they hope it will help develop better types of corn for consumers around the world.
Corn has received a lot of bad press lately, with stories about high fructose corn syrup and the bulging calorie count of movie popcorn. But plain, simple sweet corn carries a lot of health benefits. It’s a good source of dietary fiber, and vitamins B and C. Blue corn has more protein and it also contains anthocyanins, phytochemicals well studied for cancer prevention.