GERMPLASM ENHANCEMENT OF MAIZE PROJECT (GEM)
Location: North Central Regional Plant Introduction Station, Ames, Iowa
Title: Germplasm Enhancement of Maize (GEM) Project Overview
Submitted to: Corn Dry Milling Conference Proceedings
Publication Type: Abstract Only
Publication Acceptance Date: May 6, 2008
Publication Date: May 29, 2008
Citation: Blanco, M.H. 2008. Germplasm Enhancement of Maize (GEM) Project Overview [abstract]. In: 48th Annual Corn Dry Milling Conference Proceedings, May 29-30, 2008, Peoria, Illinois. p. 17-18.
The Germplasm Enhancement of Maize Project (GEM) is a collaborative effort of public and private sector researchers to broaden and enhance the maize germplasm base. The GEM Project has cooperators from 26 private companies, 17 Universities, 7 USDA-ARS Research Units, 1 NGO, and 12 international public/private cooperators. There are two USDA-ARS research sites devoted to the GEM Project; Raleigh, NC, and Ames, IA. The Ames site focuses on temperate, and 25% tropical germplasm, and Raleigh on 50% tropical. The major objectives of the project are to evaluate and develop diverse maize germplasm that are adaptable to the US with favorable yield, stress resistance, and key value added traits (VAT's), and to transfer this information and germplasm to the research community. Since 2001, the GEM Project released 190 lines derived from 24 races, originating from 14 countries. In addition to providing genes for abiotic and biotic stress tolerance, exotic germplasm provides a source of alleles for grain quality, reduced levels of mycotoxin, and VAT's (protein >13%, oil >5%, starch >70%). In 2007, we began preliminary experiments to study dry-grind ethanol potential in the grain, and lignocellulosic potential of stover in tropical derived germplasm. The original source of germplasm used in the GEM Project was from the Latin American Maize Project (LAMP), but we have expanded the germplasm base with additional sources from other regions and races. New initiatives include an allelic diversity (AD) project which involves sampling previously un-sampled maize races with an ultimate goal to develop adapted sources of germplasm from the majority of the known races of maize (~250 races). To date, we have approximately 125 AD races in the early stages of development at backcross 1 (BC1) generation in our Midwest nurseries. New adapted sources of germplasm will be an important contribution to all sectors of the maize research community such as quantitative genetics, genomic research, and trait discovery with potential value to end-users and consumers.