Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Plant scientist uncovers clues to yield-boosting quirks of corn genome

Date:
November 19, 2009
Source:
University of Minnesota
Summary:
The offspring of two inbred strains tend to be superior to both of their parents. Characterizing the gene-level variability that leads to this phenomenon, known as heterosis or hybrid vigor, could boost our ability to custom-tailor crops for specific traits, such as high protein content for human consumption or high glucose content for biomass fuel.

When it comes to corn, 1 + 1 = more than 2: The offspring of two inbred strains tend to be superior to both of their parents. Characterizing the gene-level variability that leads to this phenomenon, known as heterosis or hybrid vigor, could boost our ability to custom-tailor crops for specific traits, such as high protein content for human consumption or high glucose content for biomass fuel.

With help from the newly released DNA sequence of the common corn strain B73, University of Minnesota plant biologist Nathan Springer and colleagues from Iowa State University, Roche NimbleGen, and the University of Florida have begun doing just that -- and come up with some surprising findings.

In a study reported in the Nov. 20 issues of Science and PLoS Genetics, the researchers compared the genetic sequence of B73 with that of a second inbred strain, Mo17. They discovered an astonishing abundance of two kinds of structural variations between the pair: differences in the copy number of multiple copies of certain stretches of genetic material, and the presence of large chunks of DNA in one but not the other. In fact, at least 180 genes appearing in B73 aren't found in Mo17, and Springer, an associate professor of plant biology in the College of Biological Sciences, suspects that Mo17 likely has a similar number of genes that B73 lacks.

"The genomes of two corn strains are much more different than we would have thought," Springer said. "What struck us is how many major changes there are between two individuals of the same species."

The researchers think that this diversity, which is almost as great as the difference between humans and chimpanzees, is what's behind the superiority of hybrids. When the genetic material from the two very different parents combines, the offspring end up with more expressed traits than either parent -- the best of both worlds, gene-wise.

The findings are important because corn is important. Domesticated some 10,000 years ago, the crop produces billions of bushels of food, feed, and fuel feedstock each year in the United States alone. If we understand the molecular underpinnings of hybrid vigor, Springer says, we can potentially produce true-breeding lines of corn with specific traits for specific uses. That means better use of land, fertilizer, fuel, and other inputs needed to grow crops, and, ultimately, less environmental impact than might otherwise accrue as we work to meet the needs of a growing population.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of Minnesota. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

University of Minnesota. "Plant scientist uncovers clues to yield-boosting quirks of corn genome." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 19 November 2009. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/11/091119141046.htm>.
University of Minnesota. (2009, November 19). Plant scientist uncovers clues to yield-boosting quirks of corn genome. ScienceDaily. Retrieved September 20, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/11/091119141046.htm
University of Minnesota. "Plant scientist uncovers clues to yield-boosting quirks of corn genome." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/11/091119141046.htm (accessed September 20, 2014).

Share This



More Plants & Animals News

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Chocolate Museum Opens in Brussels

Chocolate Museum Opens in Brussels

AFP (Sep. 19, 2014) Considered a "national heritage" in Belgium, chocolate now has a new museum in Brussels. In a former chocolate factory, visitors to the permanent exhibition spaces, workshops and tastings can discover derivatives of the cocoa bean. Duration: 01:00 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Could Grief Affect The Immune Systems Of Senior Citizens?

Could Grief Affect The Immune Systems Of Senior Citizens?

Newsy (Sep. 19, 2014) The study found elderly people are much more likely to become susceptible to infection than younger adults going though a similar situation. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Jury Delivers Verdict in Salmonella Trial

Jury Delivers Verdict in Salmonella Trial

AP (Sep. 19, 2014) A federal jury has convicted three people in connection with an outbreak of salmonella poisoning five years ago that sickened hundreds of people and was linked to a number of deaths. (Sept. 19) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Raw: Elephant Undergoes Surgery in Tbilisi Zoo

Raw: Elephant Undergoes Surgery in Tbilisi Zoo

AP (Sep. 18, 2014) Grand the elephant has successfully undergone surgery to remove a portion of infected tusk at Tbilisi Zoo in Georgia. British veterinary surgeons used an electric drill to extract the infected piece. (Sept. 18) 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