Crop Biotech Update

Study Reveals More Genes are Active in High-Performance Maize

January 24, 2018

When two maize inbred lines are crossed with each other the hybrid offspring have a significantly higher yield than either of the two parent plants. Plant breeders have long known the "heterosis effect," but what causes it is unclear.

Scientists at the University of Bonn led by Prof. Dr. Frank Hochholdinger from the Institute of Crop Science and Resource Conservation (INRES) at the University of Bonn have now investigated a number of genetically distinct hybrids. They studied six different inbred-hybrid combinations. According to Jutta Baldauf from INRES, they have analyzed which genes were transcribed in the original plants and which were in the offspring. They showed that the offspring had many more active genes than the original parents.

Baldauf explains, "On average, we therefore count more active genes in the offspring." Maize has around 40,000 genes in total, but the scientists put the genetic gain at 500 to 600 additionally active genes on average. "The complementation of Single Parent Expression' could be one of the factors why hybrids perform better than their parents," says Prof. Hochholdinger.

For more information, read the news release from the University of Bonn.