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Iowa Corn Secures USDA Matching Funds for Phenotyping Research

May 25, 2016

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced last week it will make available $250,000 to match checkoff investments from the Iowa Corn Promotion Board (ICPB), Illinois Corn Marketing Board and Nebraska Corn Board for phenotyping research.  This is part of a larger $130 million research initiative announced by USDA to fund research, education, and extension projects. ICPB initiated the a phenotyping research initiative, known as Genomes to Fields, to expand our understanding of interacting effects that corn genetics and crop environments have on corn yields.

“We thank the USDA for providing us the ability to advance our plant productivity research,” said Iowa Corn Research and Business Development Chair Curt Mether, a farmer from Logan, Iowa. “Our goal is to make the connection in understanding how genes of the corn plant perform under different environmental growing conditions and how various plant traits will be impacted. If scientists can predict how corn traits will perform, given their understanding of the genes in a hybrid and how they react to environment stressors, this will enable plant breeders to design better corn plants for improved productivity to meet the growing demand for food, feed and fuel in the future.”

The key objectives of this research are to:

  • Develop a public corn phenotype database to allow study of mechanisms by which genes interact with the environment to influence traits
  • Develop new methods and devices to analyze the relationship between genetic, trait and environmental data to predict performance of plants
  • Be able to predict the growth and yield of a corn plant given the genetic background and the environment
  • Convert the corn genome sequence into functional knowledge

Scientists seeking funding from this USDA announcement must also request a letter of support from the Iowa Corn Promotion Board.  Scientific proposals are due to USDA on July 28, 2016.

“This is another example of checkoff dollars being leveraged on behalf of corn farmers to improve long term profitability,” explained Mether.

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The Iowa Corn Promotion Board (ICPB), works to develop and defend markets, fund research, and provide education about corn and corn products.

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