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Date Submitted:

Author: April Stephens


Group Members:
1) April Stephens
2) Dorothy Aaron
3) Larissa Fernandez
4) Lorna Simkin
Class: Monday/Wednesday 8 am to 11 am
Section Number: Biology 1406
Lab Number: 1
Title: The OKeefes White Corn Plants can be Classified as Albino.

The OKeefes Corn Plants can be Classified as Albino


Introduction
All living things contain the very instructions that dictate the genetic make up inside of
the cells. The instructions are specifically located on the chromosomes inside a cells nucleus.
Chromosomes are made up of DNA (deoxyribonucleic acid) that actually contain the genetics
that decide everything about an organism. Specific sequences of DNA that influence the
characteristics, or traits, of living things are called genes.
The way an organism shows a specific trait is called a phenotype. The specific sequence
that makes up the way the trait is shown is called a genotype. An organisms genotype can be
homozygous (with both genes being identical) or heterozygous (with one gene being dominant
and the other recessive). A dominate gene masks the appearance of a recessive trait; therefore if a
genotype is heterozygous the recessive trait is hidden. The phenotype for a recessive trait can
only be observed when the genotype of a trait is homozygous recessive.
One of the most commonly known recessive traits in the world is Albinism. This
particular trait is characterized by a lack of pigment in an animals hair, skin, and eyes, or in the
the case of plants, a lack of pigment in the leaves. More often than not, this lack of pigment
leaves the organism looking white.
In sexually reproducing organisms, offspring inherit two genes for an individual trait: one
gene from the male parent, the other from the female, that then fuse together during the
fertilization process. This means the possible genotype of an organism can be predicted by using
a punnett square. A punnett square is a diagram that shows the possible genotypes of the parental
gametes and how they are crossed. Using this diagram one can predict the ratios of expected
genotypes for a cross, which then can be used to determine possible phenotypes.

Cc x Cc

C - Green
Corn

c - Albino
Corn

CC
(Green Corn)

Cc
(Green Corn)

Cc
(Green Corn)

cc
(Albino Corn)

Table 1. Example of a punnett square predicting


the crossing of two heterozygous genotypes.

In the case of two heterozygous parents carrying the recessive trait for albinism having
offspring, the punnett square predicts that one out of four, or twenty-five percent, will be albino.
This is important when considering the case of the OKeefes corn plants. Sam and
Martha OKeefe use heirloom corn seeds, meaning seeds harvested from previous generations of
corn plants, to plant the corn crop every year. In OKeefes most recent crop of corn several of
the corn plants have been strangely white. Below is a count of green and white corn plants. This
is generation one.

Row 1

Row 2

Row 3

Row 4

Row 5

Row 6

Green
Plants

100

70

80

75

70

100

White
Plants

30

20

25

30

Table 2. The results OKeefes count of the corn (generation one). These are the parents of the
corn counted in the experiment.
Sweet corn is naturally white of course, but that is an entirely different species of corn
(Orzolek, 2011). While it is possible that the wind around the area had blown in pollen from one
of the larger farms of the area, and thus cross breeding the OKeefes standard corn with sweet
corn, but it is unlikely. If cross contamination had occurred then there would be more wrong with
the OKeefes corn then just the color. Environmental factors can be eliminated for similar
reason; if the weather was damaging the corn then there would be more wrong with the corn then
color. The are no recorded pesticides that cause corn plants to turn white (Hager, 1997).
This leaves genetics as the cause of the white corn. It was decided the corn were most
likely albino variants of the standard corn plants. Corn can have either a green or white
phenotype. If the corn is green then it can have a homozygous dominate (CC) or heterozygous
(Cc) genotype. If the corn is white then it can only have a homozygous recessive (cc) genotype.
When the considering the question of what was causing the corn to be white, it was
decided the OKeefes could be breeding heterozygous (Cc) corn plants. If the OKeefes are
breeding heterozygous corn plants, then the resulting offspring will be seventy-five percent green
and twenty-five percent white.
Procedure
Random samples were donated by the OKeefes to the lab and planted on January sixth,
January eleventh, and January fifteenth. These samples are generation two and the direct
offspring of the OKeefes original white corn plants (seen in table two). The groups of corn
were treated as individual groups based on these planting dates.

After counting the white and green corn, ratios were established based upon the expected
and observed data (see tables three, four, and five). The collected data was then analysed with the
chi square formula for a margin of error.
Results
Group 6
OKeefes Corn
Plants

Observed

Expected

(O-E)^2 / E

Green Corn Plants

124

102

4.75

White Corn Plants

13

34

12.97

Total Corn Plants

137

136

x = 17.72

Table 3. The data from group six of generation two. The chi square value is 17.72

Group 11
OKeefes Corn
Plants

Observed

Expected

(O-E)^2 / E

Green Corn Plants

126

123

.07

White Corn Plants

38

41

4.56

Total Corn Plants

164

164

x = 4.63

Table 4. The data from group eleven of generation two. The chi square value is 4.63.

Group 15
OKeefes Corn
Plants

Observed

Expected

(O-E)^2 / E

Green Corn Plants

118

119

.008

White Corn Plants

41

40

.025

Total Corn Plants

159

159

x = .033

Table 5. The data from group fifteen of generation two. The chi square value is 0.033.
Discussion

If the OKeefes were breeding heterozygous green corn plants then the offspring would
be seventy-five percent green and twenty-five percent white. When each group is treated as an
individual test of this hypothesis then group eleven and fifteen support it, but six does not.
In group six the chi square value is 17.72; this is outside the acceptable margin of error.
In group eleven the chi square value is 4.63; this is inside the acceptable margin of error. In
group fifteen the chi square value is 0.033; this is inside the acceptable margin of error. Due to
two out our three groups being in acceptable ranges we can accept our hypothesis.
The only surprising result is group six because it is very far out of the range of the
expected results. This may be because of how few plants were in that group; there were thirty
less plants in this group then there were in the other two.
In future experiments it is suggested that each group have an equal number of plants in
each group. It is also suggested that more than one generation of plants be tested by using
pedigrees to trace the possible genotypes in each generation. This would allow for more accurate
ratios to be tested as well.
Conclusion
In conclusion the data from the experiment supports the hypothesis. It is the
recommendation that the OKeefes pull the white corn out up out of their crop. This will not
completely rid the OKeefes crop of the white plants, but it will begin to negate the problem by
removing the plants most likely to transfer the genes for albinism on. Over time if this done for
multiple generations the albino corn will eventually be bred out of the crop.
Literature Citation
Hager, A. and McGlamery, M. (June 13, 1997). Causes of White Corn Plants. In the Bulletin.
Retrieved from
http://bulletin.ipm.illinois.edu/pastpest/articles/v9712g.html
Orzolek, M., Kime, L., and Harper, J. (2011) Sweet Corn Production. In Ag Alternatives.
Retrieved from http://extension.psu.edu/business/ag-alternatives/horticulture/vegetables/sweetcorn-production