Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Maize’s starch pathway found limited

24.09.2002


In the first look at the molecular diversity of the starch pathway in maize, research at North Carolina State University has found that - in contrast to the high amount of diversity in many of the maize genes previously studied - there is a general dearth of diversity in this particular pathway.



That’s important, says Dr. Ed Buckler, U.S. Department of Agriculture-Agricultural Research Service (USDA-ARS) researcher, assistant professor of genetics at NC State and one of the study’s lead researchers, because molecular diversity essentially provides scientists and plant breeders the raw materials to make the crop better.

"Starch is the main product of maize, and is one of the pathways we want to change the most," Buckler says. "People want to use corn for sweeteners, ethanol production and processed food needs. But some of the genes in the starch pathway cannot be manipulated any more by normal breeding."


Buckler and colleagues at NC State and the University of California, Irvine, publish their findings in the Oct. 1 issue of Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. The online version of the paper was released on Sept. 20.

In an interesting side note to the research on diversity in maize’s starch pathway, the team also conclusively identified the single nucleotide - or structural unit of a nucleic acid - responsible for the production of sweet corn in the United States. Previous research by Dr. Martha James at Iowa State University had narrowed the possibilities down to two nucleotides, according to Buckler. Sweet corn was one of the first mutations discovered in the field of genetics; that discovery occurred about 100 years ago, Buckler says.

"Currently, the identification of the U.S. sweet corn mutation is of historical and basic research interest, but in the future it could help lead to a sweet corn with a good balance of
sweetness, creaminess and germination ability," Buckler said.

Buckler says limited diversity in starch and perhaps other, yet-to-be-studied maize pathways make it harder for plant breeders to increase yields of the popular crop. Therefore, to further increase yields, diversity of these important pathways must also be increased.

He adds that there are essentially three ways to solve the problem of low diversity in maize’s starch pathway: crossing maize with pollen from its wild relative, teosinte; searching for and extracting important genetic material from Latin or South American maize; or using transgenics, or genetic engineering.

Each possibility’s rewards come with risks, however. Teosinte’s yield is not very high, so crossing it with maize would not be immediately useful; searching for diversity in "foreign" maize may not yield the necessary genetic diversity to improve U.S. maize; and genetic engineering is often met with resistance, especially from consumers.

In the paper, Buckler and his colleagues suggest an alternative. "One efficient method may be to take alleles, or genetic variants, from selected genomic regions or genes in teosinte, which has lots of diversity, and incorporate them into maize," Buckler says. This type of work has been done with the tomato and has yielded positive results, he adds.

Buckler’s research is supported by the National Science Foundation and the USDA-ARS.

Mick Kulikowski | NCSU

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht Making fuel out of thick air
08.12.2017 | DOE/Argonne National Laboratory

nachricht ‘Spying’ on the hidden geometry of complex networks through machine intelligence
08.12.2017 | Technische Universität Dresden

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Scientists channel graphene to understand filtration and ion transport into cells

Tiny pores at a cell's entryway act as miniature bouncers, letting in some electrically charged atoms--ions--but blocking others. Operating as exquisitely sensitive filters, these "ion channels" play a critical role in biological functions such as muscle contraction and the firing of brain cells.

To rapidly transport the right ions through the cell membrane, the tiny channels rely on a complex interplay between the ions and surrounding molecules,...

Im Focus: Towards data storage at the single molecule level

The miniaturization of the current technology of storage media is hindered by fundamental limits of quantum mechanics. A new approach consists in using so-called spin-crossover molecules as the smallest possible storage unit. Similar to normal hard drives, these special molecules can save information via their magnetic state. A research team from Kiel University has now managed to successfully place a new class of spin-crossover molecules onto a surface and to improve the molecule’s storage capacity. The storage density of conventional hard drives could therefore theoretically be increased by more than one hundred fold. The study has been published in the scientific journal Nano Letters.

Over the past few years, the building blocks of storage media have gotten ever smaller. But further miniaturization of the current technology is hindered by...

Im Focus: Successful Mechanical Testing of Nanowires

With innovative experiments, researchers at the Helmholtz-Zentrums Geesthacht and the Technical University Hamburg unravel why tiny metallic structures are extremely strong

Light-weight and simultaneously strong – porous metallic nanomaterials promise interesting applications as, for instance, for future aeroplanes with enhanced...

Im Focus: Virtual Reality for Bacteria

An interdisciplinary group of researchers interfaced individual bacteria with a computer to build a hybrid bio-digital circuit - Study published in Nature Communications

Scientists at the Institute of Science and Technology Austria (IST Austria) have managed to control the behavior of individual bacteria by connecting them to a...

Im Focus: A space-time sensor for light-matter interactions

Physicists in the Laboratory for Attosecond Physics (run jointly by LMU Munich and the Max Planck Institute for Quantum Optics) have developed an attosecond electron microscope that allows them to visualize the dispersion of light in time and space, and observe the motions of electrons in atoms.

The most basic of all physical interactions in nature is that between light and matter. This interaction takes place in attosecond times (i.e. billionths of a...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

See, understand and experience the work of the future

11.12.2017 | Event News

Innovative strategies to tackle parasitic worms

08.12.2017 | Event News

AKL’18: The opportunities and challenges of digitalization in the laser industry

07.12.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Midwife and signpost for photons

11.12.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

How do megacities impact coastal seas? Searching for evidence in Chinese marginal seas

11.12.2017 | Earth Sciences

PhoxTroT: Optical Interconnect Technologies Revolutionized Data Centers and HPC Systems

11.12.2017 | Information Technology

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>