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The Corn of the Future Is Hundreds of Years Old and Makes Its Own Mucus

 
Strode
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08/11/2018 10:57 PM
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The Corn of the Future Is Hundreds of Years Old and Makes Its Own Mucus
[link to www.smithsonianmag.com (secure)]
The Corn of the Future Is Hundreds of Years Old and Makes Its Own Mucus
This rare variety of corn has evolved a way to make its own nitrogen, which could revolutionize farming
Aerial_Roots_small.jpg
The corn variety Sierra Mixe grows aerial roots that produce a sweet mucus that feeds bacteria. The bacteria, in turn, pull nitrogen out of the air and fertilize the corn. If scientists can breed this trait into conventional corn, it could lead to a revolution in agriculture. (Photo: Howard-Yana Shapiro)
By Jason Daley
smithsonian.com
August 10, 2018

In the 1980s, Howard-Yana Shapiro, now chief agricultural officer at Mars, Incorporated, was looking for new kinds of corn. He was in the Mixes District of Oaxaca in southern Mexico, the area where the precursors to maize (aka corn) first evolved, when he located some of the strangest corn ever seen. Not only was it 16 to 20 feet tall, dwarfing the 12-foot stuff in American fields, it took six to eight months to mature, far longer than the 3 months needed for conventional corn. Yet it grew to those impressive heights in what can charitably be called poor soil, without the use of fertilizer.. But the strangest part of the corn was its aerial roots--green and rose-colored, finger-like protrusions sticking out of the corn’s stalk, dripping with a clear, syrupy gel.

Shapiro suspected that those mucousy fingers might be the Holy Grail of agriculture. He believed that the roots allowed this unique variety of corn, dubbed Sierra Mixe and locally bred over hundreds or even thousands of years, to produce its own nitrogen, an essential nutrient for crops that is usually applied as fertilizer in epic amounts.

The idea seemed promising, but without DNA tools to look into the specifics of how the corn was making nitrogen, the discovery was shelved. Nearly two decades later, in 2005, Alan B. Bennett of the University of Davis—along with Shapiro and other researchers—began using cutting-edge technology to look into the nitrogen-fixing properties of the phlegmy corn, finding that indeed, bacteria living in the mucus were pulling nitrogen from the air, transmuting it into a form the corn could absorb.

Now, after over a decade of field research and genetic analysis, the team has published their work in the journal PLOS Biology. If the nitrogen-fixing trait could be bred into conventional corn, allowing it to produce even a portion of its own nitrogen, it could reduce the cost of farming, reduce greenhouse gas emissions and halt one of the major pollutants in lakes, rivers and the ocean. In other words, it could lead to a second nitrogen revolution.

<50%

Last Edited by ~Jazzy~ on 08/11/2018 11:20 PM
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Prayandprepare000

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08/11/2018 11:15 PM
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Re: The Corn of the Future Is Hundreds of Years Old and Makes Its Own Mucus
This is fascinating. I would love to get some seeds and try it. 5 stars.
SkyTiger

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08/11/2018 11:18 PM
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Re: The Corn of the Future Is Hundreds of Years Old and Makes Its Own Mucus
Interesting


book



Thanks OP.
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Icey

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08/11/2018 11:20 PM
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Re: The Corn of the Future Is Hundreds of Years Old and Makes Its Own Mucus
[link to www.smithsonianmag.com (secure)]

The Corn of the Future Is Hundreds of Years Old and Makes Its Own Mucus
This rare variety of corn has evolved a way to make its own nitrogen, which could revolutionize farming
Aerial_Roots_small.jpg
The corn variety Sierra Mixe grows aerial roots that produce a sweet mucus that feeds bacteria. The bacteria, in turn, pull nitrogen out of the air and fertilize the corn. If scientists can breed this trait into conventional corn, it could lead to a revolution in agriculture. (Photo: Howard-Yana Shapiro)
By Jason Daley
smithsonian.com
August 10, 2018

In the 1980s, Howard-Yana Shapiro, now chief agricultural officer at Mars, Incorporated, was looking for new kinds of corn. He was in the Mixes District of Oaxaca in southern Mexico, the area where the precursors to maize (aka corn) first evolved, when he located some of the strangest corn ever seen. Not only was it 16 to 20 feet tall, dwarfing the 12-foot stuff in American fields, it took six to eight months to mature, far longer than the 3 months needed for conventional corn. Yet it grew to those impressive heights in what can charitably be called poor soil, without the use of fertilizer.. But the strangest part of the corn was its aerial roots--green and rose-colored, finger-like protrusions sticking out of the corn’s stalk, dripping with a clear, syrupy gel.

Shapiro suspected that those mucousy fingers might be the Holy Grail of agriculture. He believed that the roots allowed this unique variety of corn, dubbed Sierra Mixe and locally bred over hundreds or even thousands of years, to produce its own nitrogen, an essential nutrient for crops that is usually applied as fertilizer in epic amounts.

The idea seemed promising, but without DNA tools to look into the specifics of how the corn was making nitrogen, the discovery was shelved. Nearly two decades later, in 2005, Alan B. Bennett of the University of Davis—along with Shapiro and other researchers—began using cutting-edge technology to look into the nitrogen-fixing properties of the phlegmy corn, finding that indeed, bacteria living in the mucus were pulling nitrogen from the air, transmuting it into a form the corn could absorb.

Now, after over a decade of field research and genetic analysis, the team has published their work in the journal PLOS Biology. If the nitrogen-fixing trait could be bred into conventional corn, allowing it to produce even a portion of its own nitrogen, it could reduce the cost of farming, reduce greenhouse gas emissions and halt one of the major pollutants in lakes, rivers and the ocean. In other words, it could lead to a second nitrogen revolution.

<50%
 Quoting: Strode


Useful info.

Last Edited by ~Jazzy~ on 08/11/2018 11:22 PM
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Colibri

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08/11/2018 11:54 PM
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Re: The Corn of the Future Is Hundreds of Years Old and Makes Its Own Mucus
bump
Carnac

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08/12/2018 12:26 AM
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Re: The Corn of the Future Is Hundreds of Years Old and Makes Its Own Mucus
Wow.
Have a nice day = GFY. GFY = Go Fuck Yourself. If this offends you then have a nice day.
NowIhavetothinkofanam​e

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08/12/2018 02:01 AM
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Re: The Corn of the Future Is Hundreds of Years Old and Makes Its Own Mucus
Wow.
 Quoting: Carnac


I know right! Supa corn.
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