This maize is almost too pretty to eat! But what causes this colour phenomenon?
Basically, a transposon (or transposable element) is a small piece of DNA that inserts itself into another place in the genome.
Geneticist Barbara McClintock discovered these genetic elements while studying corn way back in the 1940s. McClintock noticed that spontaneous breaks in the plant’s chromosomes correlated with the color patterns of the corn. She later revealed that certain bits of DNA — she called them “jumping genes” — have the ability to move within and between chromosomes, causing the breaks she saw.
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