AgriLife Research study opens doors for increases in Texas corn yields, aflatoxin resistance

Posted: March 19, 2015 at 3:44 pm

IMAGE:Dr. Ivan Barrero Farfan, a Texas A&M University student working with Dr. Seth Murray during the study, pollinates corn to make hybrids for testing. view more

Credit: (Texas A&M AgriLife Research photo by Dr. Seth Murray)

COLLEGE STATION - A ground-breaking Texas A&M AgriLife Research-led study on corn has identified useful gene variations for yield increases, drought tolerance and aflatoxin resistance that could make a real difference to Texas producers in the years to come, according to researchers.

The study, titled "Genome Wide Association Study for Drought, Aflatoxin Resistance, and Important Agronomic Traits of Maize Hybrids in the Sub-Tropics" was recently published in PLOS ONE, an international, peer-reviewed, open-access, online publication.

The study included the growing years of 2011, a drought year, and 2012, and was conducted on dryland and irrigated corn in College Station and in Mississippi, all with similar results, said Dr. Seth Murray, an AgriLife Research corn breeder in the soil and crop science department of Texas A&M University at College Station.

Murray said at this time all corn seed available to growers in Texas comes from commercial breeding conducted in the Midwest. As a result, there's been no significant increase in corn yields in Texas for many years, as reflected in their previous publications.

Murray designed this recently published study to see if there was a genetic reason, possibly the use of Midwest-temperate rather than sub-tropical genetics, limiting production.

He was joined in his research by Dr. Mike Kolomiets, an AgriLife Research plant pathologist, and Dr. Tom Isakeit, a Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service plant pathologist, both in College Station, along with students Dr. Ivan Barrero Farfan, Gerald De La Fuente and Pei-Cheng Huang.

Other researchers who also grew the test plots and contributed to the analysis were Dr. Marilyn Warburton, Dr. Paul Williams and Dr. Gary Windham, all U.S. Department of Agriculture-Agricultural Research Service researchers at Mississippi State University.

The study was funded by a USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture, Agriculture and Food Research Initiative for Plant Breeding and Education grant. Additional support was given by the Texas Corn Producers and Texas A&M AgriLife.

Originally posted here:
AgriLife Research study opens doors for increases in Texas corn yields, aflatoxin resistance

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