Submitted to: Corn and Sorghum Seed Research Conference Proceedings
Publication Type: Book / chapter
Publication Acceptance Date: 11/30/1998
Publication Date: N/A
Citation: Interpretive Summary: Corn is extremely important in the U.S. economy. Not only farmers and processors benefit from productive and healthy hybrids, but also consumers are provided a consistent, inexpensive, and high-quality array of foods including meat, eggs, dairy products, and processed foods. U.S. hybrids utilize only about two percent of the world's corn germplasm, however. This greatly increases potential for unforeseen pest problems, and can lea to an eventual yield cap. Exotic germplasm provides new genes for resistance to pests and increased yields, and may contain new quality traits to meet new market demands. The Latin American Maize Project identified the top 268 corn populations from among 12,000 gathered throughout the Western Hemisphere. The Germplasm Enhancement of Maize Project (GEM) enhances these and other exotic populations so commerical corn companies can use them in their breeding programs. Enhancement means that exotic materials are bred with U.S. materials, and breeders can selec adapted corn lines that carry the desired exotic trait. Results are plants that produce higher amounts of edible oils, proteins, and starches, all of which increase the value of the corn.
Technical Abstract: Corn is extremely important to the U.S. economy due to the amount produced, and its value for domestic and export use. However, less than one percent of the U.S. germplasm base consists of exotic germplasm leading to concerns about corn's genetic vulnerability. The Latin American Maize Project (LAMP) was the first coordinated international project for evaluating a major world crop, involving the cooperative efforts of 12 countries to evaluate their native germplasm accessions. But for any of the LAMP accessions to be useful, some mechanism had to be established to enhance them so they could enter commercial corn breeding channels. A coordinated and cooperative effort among public and private sectors was organized, the Germplasm Enhancement of Maize project (GEM). The project provides the corn industry materials developed using germplasm enhancement of useful exotic germplasm, with the ultimate objective of improving and broadening the germplasm base of corn hybrids grown by American farmers. Traits targeted for improvement are agronomic productivity, disease and insect resistance, and value-added characteristics.