USDA announced last week it will make available $250,000 to match checkoff investments from the Iowa Corn Promotion Board (ICPB), Illinois Corn Marketing Board and Nebraska Corn Board for phenotyping research. This is part of a larger $130 million research initiative announced by USDA to fund research, education and Extension projects. The ICPB initiated the phenotyping research initiative, now known as Genomes to Fields, to expand the understanding of interacting effects that corn genetics and crop environments have on corn yields.
Need a better understanding of how genes of corn plant work
"We thank USDA for providing us the ability to advance our plant productivity research," says Curt Mether, a corn farmer from Logan, Iowa. He is research and development committee chair for the Iowa Corn Promotion Board.
Mether says, "Our goal is to make the connection in understanding how genes of the corn plant perform under different environmental growing conditions and how various plant traits will be impacted. If scientists can predict how corn traits will perform, given their understanding of the genes in a hybrid and how they react to environment stressors, this will enable plant breeders to design better corn plants for improved productivity to meet the growing demand for food, feed and fuel in the future."
Key objectives of this research are to:
* Develop a public corn phenotype database to allow study of mechanisms by which genes interact with the environment to influence traits
* Develop new methods and devices to analyze the relationship between genetic, trait and environmental data to predict performance of plants
* Be able to predict the growth and yield of a corn plant given the genetic background and the environment
* Convert the corn genome sequence into functional knowledge
Scientists who are seeking funding from this USDA grant announcement must also request a letter of support from the Iowa Corn Promotion Board. Scientific proposals are due to USDA on July 28, 2016. "This is another example of checkoff dollars being leveraged on behalf of corn farmers to improve long-term profitability," says Mether. “The Iowa Corn Promotion Board works to develop and defend markets, fund research, and provide education about corn and corn products.”