Weed to Wonder: How Humans Changed Corn and Corn Changed Human Society

Sequencing the Maize Genome

Genome sequencing continues to increase rapidly in speed and efficiency and decrease in cost. The human genome, for example, was a 13 year project, which cost hundreds of millions of dollars to complete. Current technology allows a human genome to be sequenced for a few thousand dollars, in a few days. It is this progressive trend that allowed scientists to propose sequencing the maize genome, the most complex plant genome sequenced to date.

Novel technologies, like next generation sequencing, have their limitations and advantages, just as traditional Sanger sequencing does. The American team, which sequenced B73, used high throughput Sanger sequencing to achieve a high quality sequence.

The Mexican team independently sequenced an ancient variety of corn with a small genome, called Palomero. They utilized used next generation sequencing to minimize cost, and generate a sequence that will provide a contrasting data set to the B73 genome.

Follow us on a tour through the Washington University at St. Louis Genome Sequencing Center to see how the American team assembled their sequence.