Location: Crop Genetics and Breeding Research
Project Number: 6602-21220-014-00-D
Project Type: In-House Appropriated
Start Date: Feb 6, 2008
End Date: Feb 5, 2013
The long-term objective of this project is to develop corn and pearl millet germplasm with reduced aflatoxin contamination and insect damage in order to increase the productivity and quality of grains produced in the southeastern United States. Over the next five years we will: 1) Identify new sources of germplasm with resistance to Aspergillus flavus/aflatoxin contamination, and to multiple ear-feeding insect damage; 2) Determine biochemical and physiological bases and associated key phenotypic traits conferring resistance/ susceptibility to chewing and piercing-sucking insects in corn and pearl millet germplasm; 3) Identify quantitative trait loci associated with reduced aflatoxin accumulation in corn; and 4) Develop maize germplasm with desirable agronomic traits and reduced aflatoxin accumulation and increased resistance to ear-feeding insects for use in the Coastal Plain region.
In comparison with molecular (gene to trait, or top-down) approach, a trait to gene (bottom-up) approach will be taken for this project. Diverse (exotic and temperate) germplasm will be screened under field conditions for resistance to aflatoxin and insect pests (i.e., corn earworm, fall armyworm, maize weevil, and stink bugs). Field-proven germplasm entries will be further evaluated for key unique phenotypic traits in relation to resistance mechanisms and underlying genetics using both conventional and molecular techniques. Following rigorous field and laboratory screenings, selected germplasm will be further examined for biochemical and physiological bases that confer resistance to multiple insect pests and aflatoxin. Insect resistance mechanisms in the selected corn and pearl millet germplasm will be categorized and the biochemical and physiological processes that confer certain insect resistance will be identified. Segregating populations with resistance to aflatoxin contamination and multiple insect damage will be developed. These new populations will serve as the sources of favorable alleles for ultimately developing aflatoxin- and insect-resistant corn inbred lines with elite agronomic traits, which will improve corn production under biotic and abiotic stresses in our region.