Inroads Made: Corn Plants and Drought, DuPont

Apr 24, 2014

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DuPont Pioneer reports that its scientists have made a breakthrough in developing corn plants that can better tolerate drought stress.

New findings will be revealed in an upcoming edition of the scientific publication, Plant Biotechnology Journal. The study entitled, “Transgenic Alteration of Ethylene Biosynthesis Increases Grain Yield in Maize under Field Drought-Stress Conditions” was penned by lead scientist Jeff Habben.

Company scientists found that higher yielding corn plants performed better under drought conditions when the ethylene stress hormone levels in the plant were reduced through a transgene.

Ethylene is a stress hormone common in most plants. However, its levels depend on a number of factors, including plant type, plant tissue and stress conditions.

We’ve always believed that corn plants are too conservative in their response to drought and readily terminate kernels or only partially fill the ear when drought hits,” explained Habben in a release. “So we are working to help the crop get through critical developmental stages by modulating ethylene levels to maintain improved yield stability.”

The company notes that drought advancements are important, especially as drought is considered the leading factor of crop yield loss. Authors of the study say that not only is the research important to farmers, but also serves a larger purpose - improving the sustainability of land and water resources.
 

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