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ARS Home » Southeast Area » Mississippi State, Mississippi » Crop Science Research Laboratory » Corn Host Plant Resistance Research » Research » Research Project #427353

Research Project: Reducing Pre-Harvest Losses from Aflatoxin in Maize Production Through Integrated Breeding and Pest Management Strategies

Location: Corn Host Plant Resistance Research

Project Number: 6064-21000-013-18-R
Project Type: Reimbursable Cooperative Agreement

Start Date: Jan 1, 2014
End Date: Dec 31, 2018

Aflatoxin is a highly carcinogenic and highly regulated mycotoxin produced by the fungus Aspergillus flavus in maize when the plants are under stressful (unfavorable abiotic and biotic) conditions. Aflatoxin contamination of maize is a threat to food security in both the U.S. and World. It is a recurring problem in the Southern U.S. causing substantial economic losses for growers and the problem will likely expand toward the Midwestern Corn Belt under a changing climate. We hypothesize that sufficient mitigation of aflatoxin will require integrated strategies of breeding for adaptation and known genetic resistances, appropriate management of insects and stress, and the application of atoxigenic strains.

In this project we will (1) Develop new germplasm for improved abiotic stress tolerance and lower aflatoxin risk. (2) Validate previously reported aflatoxin resistance Quantitative trait loci (QTLs) in crosses with high yielding inbred lines. (3) Characterize and release inbred lines with multiple stress resistance, focusing on aflatoxin reduction and resistance to other potentially associated factors (e.g., drought tolerance, insect resistance) for commercial application. (4) Optimize integrated approaches to reduce aflatoxin by characterizing individual contributions and interactions of best genetics, crop and pest management (insect control), and atoxigenic strains leading to best management recommendations (5) Educate students and producers on a comprehensive, integrated aflatoxin management strategy, through extension meetings and multi-media publications, and directed partly from research conducted on grower cooperator farms.