Red Corn, Blue Corn!
In the past, the program has had a small effort to develop specialty colored maize inbreds that could be used to create food grade hybrids for red or blue tortillas, tortilla chips, or other corn products. In addition to adding some colorful aesthetics to each eating experiance, recent evidence on antioxidents has suggested that there may be health benefits to the anthocyanins.
There are many colors and shades of maize available that remain unexplored or even selected against (quite probably for no good reason at all other then they are different). One individual who has thoroughly delved into the world of colored maize is Dave Christensen, the breeder of Painted Mountain Corn. Dave has developed his own populations by pooling many different traditional Native American cultivars and selecting out extremely drought and cold tolerant material with an amazing array of colors.
In most cases, these colorful pigments are found in an outer layer of endosperm (the starchy bulk of a kernel) called the aleurone layer. If you were to break open the seed you would generally find a white endosperm or possibly a red but rarely a colored endosperm. Because this pigment is only in the outer seed coat, the larger the kernel the more this color is diluted on a weight basis by starch, oil and protein.
Other crops, primarily vegetables, have also begun to explore alternative colors. One popular color here at Texas A&M is maroon. This is a common and easy color in the plant world and maroon carrots were developed at Texas A&M by Dr. Leonard M. Pike.
We have a number of lines that we will continue to test for release, in addition to developing new germplasm for fresh eating (elotes and sweet corn) and popcorns.