Corn Host Plant Resistance Research Unit
Welcome to the Corn Host Plant Resistance Research Unit. The primary objective of our research is to develop corn with genetic resistance to disease and insect pests. We are currently concentrating our research on resistance to accumulation of aflatoxin in corn grain. Aflatoxin is a potent toxin that is produced by the fungus Aspergillus flavus, and the presence of aflatoxin in corn greatly reduces the value and marketability of the grain. We are also working to identify corn with resistance to southwestern corn borer, fall armyworm, and corn earworm. Each year we evaluate hundreds of corn germplasm lines in field trials for resistance to the pests. Plants are inoculated with Aspergillus flavus or infested with insect larvae. The damage that results is quantified. Germplasm lines that exhibit the least damage are used in our breeding program. Our goal is to develop corn germplasm lines that can then be used to develop corn hybrids that will be commercially available to farmers. Growing hybrids with genetic resistance to aflatoxin accumulation will enable farmers to not only reduce losses and increase profitability, but will also provide grain for safer supply of human food and livestock feed.