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Xenia Effect in corn?

 
Posts: 10
Location: Zone 8b TEXAS
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I did a experimental crop of corn this year with 4 different heirloom varieties. 3 soft flour types... Hopi Blue corn, Hopi Pink corn and Hopi turquoise. And 1 dent type... Oaxacan Green.

I'm a little confused about how the different pollen from different varieties would affect the colors of the kernels. SO far I had 2 ears I noticed bug damage so i picked off early. I was a little surprised to find yellow corn kernels. I don't totally understand the way pollen changes the color of the fertilized kernel but some are strange with marbling and some have a beautiful iridescence. I can't wait to see some of the better ears once they are ready, but i'm scratching my head as to which kernels to save for next years crop.

Heres a pic of the first 2 ears with insect damage...
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pollinator
Posts: 1330
Location: RRV of da Nort
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Hopefully others can chime in regarding the generalities of maize color genetic variation.  The marbeling/variegated effects within the kernals and in some cases across the cob, can be due to
'mobile DNA'.....transposons that can move from one site in the genome to another site, causing changes in gene expression.   The discovery of transposons is one of the factors that gained Barbara McClintock the Noble Prize. -- https://www.nature.com/scitable/topicpage/barbara-mcclintock-and-the-discovery-of-jumping-34083
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gardener
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Location: Western Washington
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Did they all bloom at the same time? Sometimes because of differing dates to maturity you have to stagger plantings for the genetic material to all be there, mixing with one another. Looks like some really interesting results! Corn is such a neat, visual example of genetics at play
 
Fish Farley
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Location: Zone 8b TEXAS
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No they didn't all bloom at exactly the same. But it was roughly the same time frame. I mixed the seeds of the 4 varieties and then planted several seeds into each whole, thinning them down to about 3 plants per hole. So I really don't have an idea which variety is which until I open them up to see. I didn't de-tassle any of the plants but i did try to manually spread the pollen around to different silks. Yields seem low, but I am not supplementing the rain water or adding any fertilizer. I'm basically testing them to see what happens under tough conditions.

While I am finding these early results to be very interesting, It's confusing to wrap my head around as to what will the next generation's results will be. I guess all I can do is select the best ears from the best plants and then select the best kernels from those. I think it's strange there are white and yellow kernels coming out of blue, green, pink and turqoiuse plants. I figured there would be some blue/green/purple action. Besides the color traits there are also the dent or flour type of kernel that can be passed on. I see both types on one ear.
 
Fish Farley
Posts: 10
Location: Zone 8b TEXAS
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Here's some pictures of the corn earlier in the season. Different colored tassels, manual pest control, anasazi beans climbing up corn.
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steward
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Location: Cache Valley, zone 4b, Irrigated, 9" rain in badlands.
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There are 4 different areas of a corn kernel that might contribute to the final color of each kernel. They might combine together, or a more outward layer might mask a more inward layer.

1- The pericarp is the outermost layer. It is maternal tissue only, so there is no xenia effect. There are no guarantees either way that it will be inherited by the offspring or not. A dark pericarp often obscures underlying layers. Colors when present are typically reds, browns.

2- The aleurone is the next deepest layer. It is a xenia layer, therefore colors may be influenced by the pollen donor. Colorless/transparent is the most recessive. Colored kernels on white cobs may be due to the pollen donor.  The pollen donor might only contribute an epistatic gene that activates a color gene pathway that is already present in the mother, but not visible. Colors are typically reds, purples, blues. There is a rare South American type that is pastel yellow.

3- The endosperm is a triploid layer with two gene sets from the mother, and one from the father. It is also a xenia layer. Colors are typically white, yellow, orange.

4- Sap color is typically colorless, but purple variants exist. When present, they stain all other layers in the kernel often obscuring any other kernel coloration. Maternal only. No xenia effect.
 
Fish Farley
Posts: 10
Location: Zone 8b TEXAS
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Thanks for the detailed post, I'll have to read over that a few times to learn the different layers.

I picked off an ear this morning that is looking a little more like I expected. It's more of a blend of the different colors....
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