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News 819 views last update:14 Jan 2016

Study: US$1.1 mln grant to improve maize’s heat tolerance

A grant of US$1.1 million has been allocated to Purdue University scientists to find ways to increase maize's tolerance to heat.

The work will be done through the International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center to develop heat-tolerant maize for Asia with funding from the US Agency for International Development.

Mitch Tuinstra, a Purdue professor, Wickersham Chair of Agronomy and principal investigator of the grant, said finding ways to grow maize in the hotter climates of South Asia could help combat malnutrition and hunger issues in those countries. Understanding ways to adapt the crop to heat and drought could also help growers in the United States where climate change is expected to increase stress on crops.

"There is a lot of concern about how climate change will affect crops, but we know almost nothing about thermal tolerance in corn," Tuinstra said.

Tuinstra and co-principal investigator Guri Johal, a Purdue professor of botany and plant pathology, will evaluate temperate and tropical types of maize to identify genes and determine physiological mechanisms that allow them to stand up to heat and drought stresses. They will work with collaborators in India, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Nepal.

The work is part of a larger public-private partnership called the Heat Tolerant Maize for Asia project. Private partners, including Pioneer Hi-Bred, Vibha AgriTech, Ajeet Seeds and Kaveri Seeds, will join national agriculture research programs in India, Nepal, Pakistan and Bangladesh.

Source: Purdue University

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