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This project has been funded by a USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA), AFRI Plant Breeding and Education Grant #2010-85117-20539.


Improving Drought Tolerance and Aflatoxin Resistance in Maize; Education, Extension, and Translational Breeding via Altered Lipid Metabolism


Abiotic stress caused by drought, and biotic stress caused by Aspergillus flavus (a fungus that produces aflatoxin) impose severe limitation to sustainable crop production, especially for maize, in the Southern US. With ever increasing demands on water and land by a growing population, stakeholders (including plant breeders, educators, extension agents, producers and the public) must work toward recognizing and meeting these challenges. Recent basic scientific discoveries have shown that the lipoxigenase (LOX) gene family mediates quantitative variation for both drought tolerance and aflatoxin resistance in maize. In the reseach componant of this project we will look for natural genetic diversity within maize at two LOX genes and test thier ability to increase drought tolerance and aflatoxin resistance using an association mapping approach. We will incoperate beneficial LOX alleles into elite US maize lines to improve levels of drought tolerance and aflatoxin resistance. Building on this multidisciplinary approach, we will develop educational materials and opportunities linking molecular biology, plant pathology, extension and plant breeding in the areas of drought and aflatoxin. Specific educational objectives include, development of a distance education class, a study abroad trip for students to CIMMYT, undergraduate research internships, and supporting the training of two graduate research assistants. To translate drought and aflatoxin knowledge to producers, extension programming will be developed and conducted. Finally, as an integrative aproach, we will build a website to serve as a portal for knowledge on the related issues of drought and aflatoxin, connecting stakeholders to opportunities in plant breeding.

Supporting documents

Outputs (not covered elsewhere)

Soil & Crop Sciences | Plant Pathology and Microbiology

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This project is funded by the USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture.