Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Technique allows researchers to identify key maize genes for increased yield

12.01.2011
Scientists have identified the genes related to leaf angle in corn (maize) – a key trait for planting crops closer together, which has led to an eight-fold increase in yield since the early 1900s. (Nature Genetics, Jan. 9, 2011.)

The study, led by researchers from Cornell and the U.S. Department of Agriculture – Agricultural Research Service (USDA-ARS) at Cornell and North Carolina State University, is the first to relate genetic variation across the entire maize genome to traits in a genomewide association study. The researchers have so far located 1.6 million sites on the maize genome where one individual may vary from another, and they used those sites to identify the genes related to changes in leaf angle that have allowed greater crop density.

Yield increases have mostly resulted from adaptations made by breeders to maize so crops can be planted closer together. Along with changes in roots and nutrient uptake that also play roles in increased crop densities, the leaves of maize crop plants have become more upright to maintain access to sunlight in crowded plots.

The team of researchers found that natural mutations in genes that affect ligules – the first thick part of the leaf where it wraps around the stalk – contributed to more upright leaves. Also, the changes in leaf angle result from many small genetic effects added together; while leaf angles may vary from one maize variety to another by up to 80 degrees, the biggest effect from a single gene was only 1.5 degrees.

"Although each gene and variant has a small effect, we can make very accurate predictions," said Ed Buckler, the paper's senior author, a USDA-ARS research geneticist in Cornell's Institute for Genomic Diversity and a Cornell adjunct associate professor of plant breeding and genetics. Lead authors include Feng Tian, a postdoctoral researcher in Buckler's lab, and Peter Bradbury, a computational biologist with the USDA-ARS in Ithaca.

The genomewide association study method allows researchers to examine a corn plant's genome and predict a trait with 80 percent accuracy. This would be analogous to predicting the height of a person by sequencing and analyzing their genes, or genotyping a seed to predict traits of the plant, said Buckler. The methodology may be applied to other traits, crops and species, including animals.

"This method will allow the intelligent design of maize around the world for high-density planting, higher yields and disease resistance," said Buckler.

In this study, the researchers had the advantage of making controlled crosses in maize plants to capture a great deal of genetic variation in the population of maize they studied, something that cannot be done when studying human genetics. The study offers proof that variation in traits is the sum of many small effects in genes, a hypothesis that has also been proposed by some human geneticists.

Also in the Jan. 9 online issue of Nature Genetics, a companion paper by the same research team, but led by those at USDA-ARS and North Carolina State University, used the same technique to identify key genes associated with southern leaf blight in maize. The study was funded by the National Science Foundation and USDA-ARS. James Holland, a researcher at USDA-ARS and North Carolina State University, is also a senior co-author of the study.

Blaine Friedlander | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.cornell.edu

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht Immune Defense Without Collateral Damage
23.01.2017 | Universität Basel

nachricht The interactome of infected neural cells reveals new therapeutic targets for Zika
23.01.2017 | D'Or Institute for Research and Education

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: Quantum optical sensor for the first time tested in space – with a laser system from Berlin

For the first time ever, a cloud of ultra-cold atoms has been successfully created in space on board of a sounding rocket. The MAIUS mission demonstrates that quantum optical sensors can be operated even in harsh environments like space – a prerequi-site for finding answers to the most challenging questions of fundamental physics and an important innovation driver for everyday applications.

According to Albert Einstein's Equivalence Principle, all bodies are accelerated at the same rate by the Earth's gravity, regardless of their properties. This...

Im Focus: Traffic jam in empty space

New success for Konstanz physicists in studying the quantum vacuum

An important step towards a completely new experimental access to quantum physics has been made at University of Konstanz. The team of scientists headed by...

Im Focus: How gut bacteria can make us ill

HZI researchers decipher infection mechanisms of Yersinia and immune responses of the host

Yersiniae cause severe intestinal infections. Studies using Yersinia pseudotuberculosis as a model organism aim to elucidate the infection mechanisms of these...

Im Focus: Interfacial Superconductivity: Magnetic and superconducting order revealed simultaneously

Researchers from the University of Hamburg in Germany, in collaboration with colleagues from the University of Aarhus in Denmark, have synthesized a new superconducting material by growing a few layers of an antiferromagnetic transition-metal chalcogenide on a bismuth-based topological insulator, both being non-superconducting materials.

While superconductivity and magnetism are generally believed to be mutually exclusive, surprisingly, in this new material, superconducting correlations...

Im Focus: Studying fundamental particles in materials

Laser-driving of semimetals allows creating novel quasiparticle states within condensed matter systems and switching between different states on ultrafast time scales

Studying properties of fundamental particles in condensed matter systems is a promising approach to quantum field theory. Quasiparticles offer the opportunity...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Sustainable Water use in Agriculture in Eastern Europe and Central Asia

19.01.2017 | Event News

12V, 48V, high-voltage – trends in E/E automotive architecture

10.01.2017 | Event News

2nd Conference on Non-Textual Information on 10 and 11 May 2017 in Hannover

09.01.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Tracking movement of immune cells identifies key first steps in inflammatory arthritis

23.01.2017 | Health and Medicine

Electrocatalysis can advance green transition

23.01.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

New technology for mass-production of complex molded composite components

23.01.2017 | Process Engineering

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>