Rolling and jumping for diversity


The station describes the discovery of transposable elements – transposons – by Barbara McClintock while working with corn. We will also describe how some TE’s move around in the genome, by copy/paste mechanism and a cut/paste mechanism.

The activity will give an example of how a cut/paste TE causes different kernel colours in corn. Participants will be given a die to roll, the outcome of the roll will determine if different colour genes are disrupted by the TE or not. The participants will colour a kernel based on the roll, and paste it to a large corn cob to visualise the outcome.


Swedish summary:

Den här stationen beskriver upptäckten av mobila genetiska elementen, transposoner, som gjordes av Barbara McClintock när hon arbetade med majs. Vi visar även hur några av de mobila genetiska elementen rör sig inom genomet: med en kopiera/klistra-mekanism eller en klippa ut/klistra in-mekanism.

Aktiviteten på den här stationen visar hur ett mobilt genetiskt element kan orsaka färgskillnader i majskorn. Deltagarna kommer att få kasta två tärningar och resultatet kommer att avgöra vilken färg deras majskorn blir. Alla klistrar in sina majskorn på en stor majskolv för att visualisera resultatet.



Did you know that parts of our genome are able to move around? Transposable elements (TEs) are pieces of DNA that jump from one position to the other. They can either cut themselves from one place in the genome and move to another place or make a copy of themselves and insert that somewhere else in the genome. Transposable elements were first discovered by Barbara McClintock, who realized that maize kernels have different color patterns, because of DNA transpositions that interfered with the pigment gene. In 1983 she won the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine for her work on genetics.


The activity

Marble track where there are 6 different outcomes. Corn kernel colours (purple, brown, yellow, yellow, white, white with purple spots). They will throw the dice and based on the number the TE-part of the track will move and will lead to a different kernel colour.
At the end of the track there are cups. Not all tracks are ending at the same point (some genes are broken by the TE), so the TE-part of the track will lead to a cups that is placed halfway or at 3/4th of the track. The cups will have cut out hardpaper kernels in different colours, which the kids can glue to the large poster with empty corn and they can write their name on the kernel. So at the end of the weekend we will have a large corn filled with all the differently coloured kernels.




Resources of interest