Biotech Updates

Genome Tools to Improve Crop Performance

March 4, 2011

Researchers can exploit the genetic diversity of crops to improve productivity, sustainability and nutrition through genome sequencing tools. Edward Buckler, a U.S. Department of Agriculture-Agricultural Research Service research geneticist in Cornell's Institute for Genomic Diversity shared his thoughts on "Dissecting the Genetics of Complex Agronomic Traits for Crop Improvement" during the annual American Association for the Advancement of Science meeting in Washington, D.C.

"There are some simple traits, like improving vitamin A content in maize, that work with five or 10 genes, but we can also understand complex traits, like flowering time, that work with over 50 genes, and we can still make very accurate predictions," said Buckler.

Breeders expect to use genomic tools to create high yielding crops that are drought resistant, use nutrients more efficiently, and are biofortified to improve nutrition. "Now is the time to apply these tools to important traits to improve society and sustainability," Buckler added.

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