It was 20 years ago that the National Plant Genome Initiative (NPGI) began. It was an effort to map the corn genome that ran in parallel to the mapping of the human genome. It was funded in part by the National Corn Growers Association. Another words, check-off dollars paid in by corn farmers helped fund the project. Corn was the primary focus of the broader genomics because of it's economic importance. The thought of sequencing the corn genome was a huge task because of corn's complex genome.

Corn has a 2.5 billion base pairs covering 10 chromosomes. That is about the size of the human genome. If I understand it, knowing which pairs on the chromosome and the genome sequence can help plant breeders develop better performing corn hybrids. That means for example more drought tolerant hybrids and more efficient use of crop nutrients. Today researchers are still determining what each of the genes controls in the corn plant. There will be many more huge advances in the near future. This is another example of how I am just amazed at what researchers have been able to do!

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