During summer 1975, 1,050 kernels from an unmarked cannister, assumed to contain "airline" corn (dc-8), were planted in an experimental plot in our Newfoundland research area. From onset of gemination, however, it became apparent that the assumption was unfounded, as the growing stalks did not display the characteristic rounded fuselage or silver color. Following appearance of third and fourth leaflets the whole crop disappeared, although all plants had appeared highly viable and disease-resistant. It was tentatively concluded that the crop contained the lethal mutant disintergrating (dig) until an irate farmer 5 miles away called the experiment station to report his field of soybeans had 1,050 hardy corn plants growing there. Subsequent calls from a geographic area leading back to the station indicated the errant maize had traversed a hemizaggous route at 2-day intervals prior to rooting in the soybeans.
The crop was transferred back to the experiment station medium using the method of Cope et al. (MNL 01: 1-2, 1000 B.C.). A 20-foot barricade with #25 steel-gauze canopy was used to contain the plants while admitting proper light (1 roamin' candle) and ventilation. It was noted at first tassel that plants would, overnight, disengage primary roots and, whirling upper leaves, fly through the field to re-engage at new terminals (due to this propensity, keeping accurate pedigree numbers was impossible; however, all plants appear to be homozygous and display the same responses).
This corn was finally determined to be the outcross of airline corn x maize bearing the galloping gene, gap. Because of ear length and row number, it is now known that the female parent was twa-747 rather than dc-8 as originally suspected. The strain is now designated helicopter corn because of its mode of travel. 500 kernels were requisitioned by the Dept. of Defense for further study. Sample stock is available through any travel agency for anyone who can catch the plants.
M. U. Thant*
*Formerly your devoted typist, MN
Return to the MNL 52 On-Line Index
Return to the Maize Newsletter Index
Return to the Maize Genome Database Page