Mark Lagrimini, professor of agronomy and horticulture, has co-authored a study in collaboration with Syngenta, in the journal Nature Biotechnology. This study demonstrates an improvement in maize yield and drought tolerance upon manipulation of sugar metabolism and sensing. The overexpression of a gene in corn increased yields by up to 123 percent under severe drought conditions. The team controlled the timing and locale of sugar-signaling mechanisms to bolster the crop’s resistance during its flowering period, when it’s typically most susceptible to the effects of drought. The study demonstrated this successful response across several years and a range of drought conditions.
Jiahn-Chou Guan & Karen E Koch discussed the significance of the results in the Nature Biotechnology News & Views section. They stated, “This work could hold implications for global food supplies. Even food production in mesic areas is increasingly threatened by drought stress, so advances in protecting maize and other grains from such stress will be invaluable.” Complete journal publication is at http://bit.ly/1hlIgMd. News and Views article is at http://bit.ly/1i80cL4.