What are NitroGenes?

Grain yields of maize and other cereal crops increase dramatically when provided additional nitrogen (N). As a result, nearly five million tons of N fertilizer are applied annually to the maize crop worldwide. This fertilizer use not only increases crop input costs, but also negatively impacts the environment and raises the energy requirements for crop production. Low N soils and lack of access to N fertilizer also limit grain yields in developing countries. Though it is known that maize varieties differ in their nitrogen use efficiency (NUE, see below), little is known about the genes that control maize responses to N. This lack of knowledge has hindered improvement of maize NUE.

The National Science Foundation (NSF) Plant Genome Research Program has sponsored this project to apply recent advances in plant genomics to discover maize genes that are associated with maize NUE, which we have named "NitroGenes". The information learned about these "NitroGenes" will provide new opportunities for improving NUE in maize and other crops through breeding or biotechnology approaches.

What's New?