James and the Giant Corn Genetics: Studying the Source Code of Nature

April 15, 2010

Don’t judge the genetic diversity of a species by its cover

Filed under: agriculture,Genetics,Plants — James @ 12:14 am

Photo: ekpatterson, flickr (click photo to see in original context)

There are more differences in the genomes of two unrelated corn plants than between the genomes of a human and a chimpanzee (two species separated by 3.5 million years of evolution).

On the other hand, two unrelated human beings, members of the same species, have more than four times as many genetic differences as two unrelated heirloom tomatoes.

Genetic Diversity:

Corn vs. Corn > Human vs. Chimpanzee >> Human vs. Human >> Heirloom Tomato vs. Heirloom Tomato

Now the fact that any two human beings are more closely related to each other than either is to a chimpanzee should be obvious to anyone who gives it a moments thought.

I plan to poll my sections tomorrow to see how many of them would put corn and heirloom tomatoes in the opposite positions, but many have figured out my feelings about corn, so they’ll probably guess it’s a trap.

1 Comment »

  1. See Plant Physiology 152:1772 (latest issue) for sequence comparison between cultivated tomato and wild relative. (not full genome, but should be sufficent to add value to the comparisons above)

    Comment by beekeeper — April 19, 2010 @ 4:00 pm

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