Scientists at Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey, have unlocked an important door to understanding one of the most important crops in the world – corn. Researchers at Rutgers Waksman Institute of Microbiology have redefined the nature of heterosis or hybrid vigor, the phenomenon underlying corns remarkable success. Heterosis is the robustness seen in hybrids when different lines are crossed and result in higher yields than either of the parental lines would produce themselves.
Maize (corn) dominates agriculture in the United States, where, according to the National Corn Growers Association, 9 billion bushels are produced annually at a value of more than $21 billion. No crop rivals its total grain yield or the diversity of its uses. Virtually all corn varieties grown today are hybrids. Understanding the genetic basis of heterosis could revolutionize our thinking about genetics and pave the way to even stronger, healthier or more productive strains.
Rentao Song and Joachim Messing of Rutgers Waksman Institute of Microbiology discuss their findings in a paper published in the July 22 issue of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Science. The paper is currently available online.
Joseph Blumberg | EurekAlert!
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