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 Single-stranded DNA and RNA origami go live
15.12.2017 | Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering at Harvard

nachricht New antbird species discovered in Peru by LSU ornithologists
15.12.2017 | Louisiana State University

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: First-of-its-kind chemical oscillator offers new level of molecular control

DNA molecules that follow specific instructions could offer more precise molecular control of synthetic chemical systems, a discovery that opens the door for engineers to create molecular machines with new and complex behaviors.

Researchers have created chemical amplifiers and a chemical oscillator using a systematic method that has the potential to embed sophisticated circuit...

Im Focus: Long-lived storage of a photonic qubit for worldwide teleportation

MPQ scientists achieve long storage times for photonic quantum bits which break the lower bound for direct teleportation in a global quantum network.

Concerning the development of quantum memories for the realization of global quantum networks, scientists of the Quantum Dynamics Division led by Professor...

Im Focus: Electromagnetic water cloak eliminates drag and wake

Detailed calculations show water cloaks are feasible with today's technology

Researchers have developed a water cloaking concept based on electromagnetic forces that could eliminate an object's wake, greatly reducing its drag while...

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...

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

Engineers program tiny robots to move, think like insects

15.12.2017 | Power and Electrical Engineering

One in 5 materials chemistry papers may be wrong, study suggests

15.12.2017 | Materials Sciences

New antbird species discovered in Peru by LSU ornithologists

15.12.2017 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>