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ARS Home » Midwest Area » Columbia, Missouri » Plant Genetics Research » Research » Research Project #444331

Research Project: The Landrace Heirlooms of Maize of the United States (Columbia, MO)

Location: Plant Genetics Research

Project Number: 5070-21220-046-011-I
Project Type: Interagency Reimbursable Agreement

Start Date: Sep 15, 2023
End Date: Sep 14, 2026

The objectives of the research are to characterize the Races of Maize from the United States, both at a genotypic and phenotypic level; determine the genetic architecture of adaptation, agronomic performance, and food/nutrition traits; and improve the agronomic characteristics of a subset of landraces chosen for potential food uses.

We will acquire germplasm from the U.S. National Plant Germplasm System, Native American organizations, seed savers organizations, etc. We will sample four plants per accession for 1000 accessions in order to conduct DNA marker characterization, including cluster analysis to establish a phylogeny, analyze diversity within and among the U.S. landraces, and establish relationships between U.S. landraces with typical Mexican accessions. The U.S. landraces will be characterized for a wide range phenotypes related to adaptation, agronomic performance, and food/nutrition characteristics. We will collect high throughput phenotypes in the field and lab, and conduct genome wide association studies (GWAS) for a number of traits including flowering, plant/ear height, kernel row number, ear length and width, kernel weight and kernel starch, protein, and oil content. We will choose a subset of the landraces with an array of kernel and ear morphologies and improve the landraces for agronomic traits while retaining their primary characteristics using traditional plant breeding methods in both Raleigh, NC, and Columbia, MO. At the end of the selection process, we will compare the original landrace to the improved populations to determine the response to selection.