Crop Biotech Update

Texas A&M AgriLife Uses Corn Breeding and Entomology to Address Crop's Major Challenges

August 3, 2022

A two-year project at Texas A&M AgriLife Research is combining corn breeding and entomology to tackle some of the major issues of corn production in the U.S.

The project will address current challenges such as increased pest resistance, decreased efficacy of Bt technology, vulnerability to caterpillar pests such as fall armyworm (FAW), and preharvest mycotoxin contamination, and is led by Texas A&M AgriLife Research entomologist Megha Parajulee and corn breeder Wenwei Xu.

Based on Xu's more than 10 years of efforts in crossing corn with its wild relative Tripsacum, or gamma grass, the team will select for tolerance to drought and heat stress, resistance to preharvest mycotoxins, resistance to insects such as FAW, high yield, and strong adaptation to the southern U.S. According to Xu, they have evaluated Tripsacum-derived corn lines and they are highly resistant to FAW and produce high yields.

The native resistance can also boost the efficacy of pest control from transgenic Bt genes and extend the lifespan of the Bt technology, Parajulee said.

For more details, read the article in AgriLife Today.

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