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Honey bees collecting pollen from a corn tassel. (photo by Boo Matthews).
The mission of the Corn Host Plant Resistance Research Unit is to identify and develop corn germplasm with genetic resistance to Aspergillus flavus infection and the subsequent accumulation of aflatoxin and genetic resistance to insect damage using both conventional breeding methods and marker assisted selection. Major goals of the research are (1) identify new corn germplasm sources with resistance to Aspergillus flavus infection and aflatoxin accumulation; (2) identify genes and elucidate functions of genes associated with resistance to aflatoxin accumulation, and develop molecular markers for enhancing maize germplasm with resistance; (3) develop and release maize germplasm lines with resistance to aflatoxin accumulation or damage by southwestern corn borer and fall armyworm; and (4) evaluate the effectiveness of genetic resistance to aflatoxin accumulation when deployed with other control strategies such as non-toxin-producing Aspergillus flavus strains and insect resistance in reducing losses to aflatoxin contamination in maize. The overall objective of the research is to develop and release germplasm, methodology and information that will expedite the development and commercialization of corn hybrids with resistance to aflatoxin contamination and insect damage and contribute to the elimination of aflatoxin contamination of corn.