Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Rutgers Geneticists Discover Probable Causes Of Hybrid Plant Vigor

Date:
June 12, 2002
Source:
Rutgers, The State University Of New Jersey
Summary:
Agricultural breeders have long observed that when plants or animals from different strains are interbred, the offspring tend to be stronger, healthier or generally more fit than either of their parents, although no one knew why this occurred. Now plant geneticists investigating the maize (corn) genome at Rutgers' Waksman Institute of Microbiology have discovered a possible explanation for this phenomenon, known as heterosis or hybrid vigor.

NEW BRUNSWICK/PISCATAWAY, N.J. – Agricultural breeders have long observed that when plants or animals from different strains are interbred, the offspring tend to be stronger, healthier or generally more fit than either of their parents, although no one knew why this occurred. Now plant geneticists investigating the maize (corn) genome at Rutgers' Waksman Institute of Microbiology have discovered a possible explanation for this phenomenon, known as heterosis or hybrid vigor.

The Rutgers findings, presented by research associate Huihua Fu and Professor Hugo K. Dooner in the June 11 edition of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, have important implications for the understanding of plant genetics as well as applications for improving agriculture.

"A clearer understanding of the basis of heterosis could help us develop new, more productive lines of corn or other plants," said Dooner.

The scientists began by taking a region of the maize genome and sequencing it, mapping the way the genetic material is laid out. To their surprise, when they sequenced the same region from another strain of maize, "everything was different," Dooner reported.

Some of the genes from the first strain seemed to be missing from the second, yet the characteristics the genes controlled were still being expressed; that is, their effects were still being observed in the plants themselves. The scientists concluded that closely related genes (known as members of a gene family) that affect the plant in similar ways must be located elsewhere in the maize's genetic material.

"This is an important finding," said Dooner. "If you have two members of a gene family but expressing themselves in two different tissues, then a crossbred plant could contain both of the genes and may therefore be better off."

This is particularly true under stressful environmental conditions where the offspring would be better equipped to respond to stress.

"That may well be the real basis for hybrid vigor," said Dooner.

Conversely, Fu and Dooner found that inbreeding these hybrids -- that is, breeding an individual with others from the same stock -- resulted in a reduced number of gene family members.

"Ultimately, this yields inbreeding depression, which is the other side of the coin, where you have less healthy offspring," said Dooner.

Agricultural breeders have historically developed most of their hybrids through trial and error processes, but they have gained an understanding of what it takes to create vigorous lines. With the revolution in genomics, Dooner observed, molecular biologists have begun to team up with the breeders. They are looking at the DNA, the molecular composition of their lines, trying to predict the performance of hybrids as they follow easily observed genes or molecular markers through generations.

"Now they can also take a different look at heterosis," said Dooner. "Maybe there are gene families that should be followed together. It could be a pretty major undertaking but with new sophisticated analyses looking at tens of thousands of genes at a time, it may be possible."


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Rutgers, The State University Of New Jersey. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

Rutgers, The State University Of New Jersey. "Rutgers Geneticists Discover Probable Causes Of Hybrid Plant Vigor." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 12 June 2002. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2002/06/020612072701.htm>.
Rutgers, The State University Of New Jersey. (2002, June 12). Rutgers Geneticists Discover Probable Causes Of Hybrid Plant Vigor. ScienceDaily. Retrieved August 27, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2002/06/020612072701.htm
Rutgers, The State University Of New Jersey. "Rutgers Geneticists Discover Probable Causes Of Hybrid Plant Vigor." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2002/06/020612072701.htm (accessed August 27, 2014).

Share This




More Plants & Animals News

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Raw: Firefighters Rescue Puppy Stuck in Tire

Raw: Firefighters Rescue Puppy Stuck in Tire

AP (Aug. 26, 2014) It took Houston firefighters more than an hour to free a puppy who got its head stuck in a tire. (Aug. 26) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Have You Ever Been 'Sleep Drunk?' 1 in 7 Has

Have You Ever Been 'Sleep Drunk?' 1 in 7 Has

Newsy (Aug. 26, 2014) A study published in the journal "Neurology" interviewed more than 19,000 people and found 15 percent suffer from being "sleep drunk." Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Great White Shark Spotted Off Massachusetts Coast

Great White Shark Spotted Off Massachusetts Coast

Reuters - US Online Video (Aug. 26, 2014) A great white shark is spotted off the shore at Duxbury beach in Massachusetts forcing beach goers out of the water. Linda So reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Raw: Elk Wanders Into German Office Building

Raw: Elk Wanders Into German Office Building

AP (Aug. 25, 2014) A young bull elk wandered inside the office building of a company in Dresden, Germany on Monday. The elk became trapped between a wall and glass windows while rescue workers tried to rescue him safely. (Aug. 25) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

    Environment News

    Technology News



    Save/Print:
    Share:

    Free Subscriptions


    Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

    Get Social & Mobile


    Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

    Have Feedback?


    Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
    Mobile: iPhone Android Web
    Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
    Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
    Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins