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The corn plant that we have today is very different than the corn plant that existed when people first started farming it 10,000 years ago, but it has been a major food source all throughout history and still is today. Besides being a food source it has played a major part in the making of large amounts of penicillin for medicine. Finally, corn is a genetically modified food, and now it is possible to make a more pest resilient and successful corn plant due to these changes in DNA. This presentation will be focused on the history of the corn plant and how it has evolved along with its nutritional content, using corn to make penicillin, and the effects of genetically modifying corn. Corn has been evolving ever since farmers first started farming and domesticating it 10,000 years ago. It started as wild grass called teosinte. This was the common ancestor for the corn plant we have today, and the two plants are very similar genetically, but have distinct differences. As the ears of corn have developed, their nutritional content has also changed. Since ancient times, corn has played a key role in medicinal treatments. Ancient peoples used corn to treat headaches and bruises, and they also used it as a diuretic. Through the ages the uses of corn medicinally have evolved. While it is no longer used as a treatment for bruises and headaches, corn silk is still used as a diuretic. In the 1940s it was discovered that corn steep liquor was a prime medium in which to make penicillin. This has greatly influenced the mode and amount of penicillin production today.

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Bobbi Sutherland

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Stander Symposium poster


This poster reflects research conducted as part of course project designed to give students experience in the research process.

The Importance of Corn in Medical Developments