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

July 11, 2011

A new version of the classical maize gene list is coming

Filed under: Uncategorized — James @ 12:39 pm

People have been studying the genetics of maize pretty much since the word “genetics” entered the english language at the beginning of the 20th century and the community is full of people, myself included, who can trace their academic lineage back through generations of maize geneticsts to the founder of the field himself R. A. Emerson himself. Each generation laboring for decades (often in the blazing sun and sucking mud of cornfields that are about as far as possible from the air conditions labs and white lab coats that the word “geneticist” usual brings to mind) to increase our community’s understanding of this crazy plant and left a legacy of hundreds of genes whose functions do not need to be inferred by BLAST searches, conserved domains or expression patterns, but have been individually studied and quantified by talents scientists through years of field work and wet-lab experimentation.

The Classical Maize Gene list is an attempt to capture as much of that knowledge as possible and make it accessible and useful to the new generation of genomic researchers — who spend a lot more time in air conditioned comfort than our predecessors in the maize community (although I imagine I’d still get thoroughly laughed at if I showed up to work in a white labcoat).

With the announced release of a new version of the maize genome and maize gene models in august, it’s time for me to update the list again. But I need your help. If there are maize genes which have been cloned, but are missing from the current list (available here), please let me know using the “Contact Me” form at the top of this page and pass this appeal on to others you know who studies (or has studied in the past) maize.

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