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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service


Location: Corn Insects and Crop Genetics Research

2009 Annual Report

1a. Objectives (from AD-416)
The objectives of this research are to 1) breed high yielding corn with enhanced nutritional value for the Northern Corn Belt, 2) adapt the corn to the conditions found on farms using sustainable farming practices, and 3) achieve acceptance of these cultivars by end users such as livestock farmers and poultry producers.

1b. Approach (from AD-416)
1)Interact with a team including USDA and ISU scientists and PFI to select varieties for breeding, plan experiments, test corn, develop methods for screening lines for desired traits, and for outreach and publication efforts. 2)Utilize a crossing, inbreeding and test-cross facilitated breeding program to identify and fix corn lines with desired traits, and crossing and recurrent selection to improve desired traits such as the content of methionine and lysine in grain. 3)In conjunction with others, fully utilize and improve the accuracy of a near infra red spectroscopy-based test for screening whole grain samples for essential amino acids. 4)Evaluate the adaptation of lines and their hybrids to organic farming systems in the Northern Corn Belt, including their agronomic traits and their ability to suppress weeds. 5)Help coordinate on-farm trials with hybrids and publicize the results. 6)Interact with end-users such as seed and organic poultry companies with advice and to help facilitate poultry company sponsored feeding trials with grain from our cultivars.

3. Progress Report
Selected plants from cultivars and crosses produced in previous years were self pollinated, and the resulting ears were screened during the winter of 2008/2009 for their grain methionine and lysine content. The best seed was planted in 2009 for further breeding. We have identified soft endosperm cultivars and breeding lines that have a higher percentage of lysine and methionine in their protein and have greater stability in producing methionine than hard endosperm cultivars. The floury-2 allele conditions a soft endosperm and high lysine and methionine content to grain but also reduces seed weight and yields by about 10%. We have identified other unique lines that produce high methionine content but do not reduce seed weight. Much of our focus in 2009 is on introgressing this trait into or fixing this trait in a wide set of cultivars or related crosses from different heterotic backgrounds. We sent 15 of our prospective high methionine hybrids out for testing in several different climatic zones. We are testing hybrids from companies and private breeders under organic conditions on our farm. Our hybrid cultivars are also being tested by ourselves and by our USDA cooperators on mainly organic or sustainable sites. We have continued to interface with the USDA Organic Standards Board on our project and with organic poultry companies interested in high methionine corn. We interacted with different seed companies to produce, breed, and test hybrids with high protein quality in 2009. We are working with one corn breeding company to introgress our high methionine trait into their inbreds. Our writing efforts focused on writing proposals to several granting agencies (AFRI, SARE, OREI) to supplement our work with funding in order to further develop our NIRS calibration and to fund a winter nursery. The Authorized Department Officer’s Designated Representative monitors activities with the collaborator for the project by frequent mutual visits, phone calls, and emails for joint planning of experiments, sharing nursery rows and yield tests, sharing results and germplasm, and reporting results.

4. Accomplishments

Last Modified: 07/26/2017
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