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M A I Z E - ZEA MAYS

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Author Topic: M A I Z E - ZEA MAYS  (Read 1073 times)
Bianca
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« on: November 07, 2008, 09:28:39 am »










The apex of the stem ends in the tassel, an inflorescence of male flowers. Each silk may become pollinated to produce one kernel of corn. Young ears can be consumed raw, with the cob and silk,
but as the plant matures (usually during the summer months) the cob becomes tougher and the silk dries to inedibility. By the end of the growing season, the kernels dry out and become difficult to chew without cooking them tender first in boiling water. Modern farming techniques in developed countries usually rely on dense planting, which produces on average only about 0.9 ears per stalk because it stresses the plants.

The kernel of corn has a pericarp of the fruit fused with the seed coat, typical of the grasses. It is close to a multiple fruit in structure, except that the individual fruits (the kernels) never fuse into a single mass. The grains are about the size of peas, and adhere in regular rows round a white pithy substance, which forms the ear.

An ear contains from 200 to 400 kernels, and is from 1025 centimetres (410 inches) in length. They are of various colors: blackish, bluish-gray, red, white and yellow. When ground into flour, maize yields more flour, with much less bran, than wheat does. However, it lacks the protein gluten of wheat and, therefore, makes baked goods with poor rising capability and coherence.

A genetic variation that accumulates more sugar and less starch in the ear is consumed as a vegetable and is called sweet corn.

Immature maize shoots accumulate a powerful antibiotic substance, DIMBOA (2,4-dihydroxy-7-
methoxy-1,4-benzoxazin-3-one). DIMBOA is a member of a group of hydroxamic acids (also known
as benzoxazinoids) that serve as a natural defense against a wide range of pests including insects, pathogenic fungi and bacteria.

DIMBOA is also found in related grasses, particularly wheat.

A maize mutant (bx) lacking DIMBOA is highly susceptible to be attacked by aphids and fungi.

DIMBOA is also responsible for the relative resistance of immature maize to the European corn borer (family Crambidae). As maize matures, DIMBOA levels and resistance to the corn borer decline.
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