Work could help improve corn varieties, increase yields, help solve challenges of pests and disease
An interdisciplinary team, led by researchers at Cornell University and the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Agricultural Research Service, has published the most comprehensive analysis to date of the corn genome.
The team said it hopes that the achievement will speed up development of improved varieties of corn, as well as boost international efforts to increase yields, expand areas where corn can be cultivated and produce varieties better equipped to resist pests and disease. “This work represents a major step forward and an important tool in the arsenal available to scientists and breeders for improving a vital source of nutrition,” said Edward B. Knipling, administrator of the Agricultural Research Service. The analysis could also help those who develop corn yields as a source of fuel, who manage crops in the face of changing climates and who are concerned about the diminishing supply of arable land and growing populations, said Knipling.
The research was funded in the U.S. by the National Science Foundation and the USDA, and the work was a collaborative effort by scientists at 17 U.S. and foreign institutions that include the University of Wisconsin-Madison; University of Missouri-Columbia; North Carolina State University; Beijing Genome Institute; University of California, Davis and the International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center, Mexico City, Mexico.