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A Scientist Focuses on Improving Plant Nutrient Use for Greater Yields at Home and Abroad

Posted on June 6, 2014 at 2:06 PM by Iowa Corn

Roots & Shoots’ June Guest blogger: Jagdeep Kaur is a research scientist at the Institute for International Crop Improvement (IICI) at the Danforth Center. She received her Ph.D. in Plant Molecular Biology and Agriculture from the University of Sydney in Australia and her masters in Genetics from Punjab Agricultural University in India.

The global agricultural landscape is typically deficient of one or more essential nutrients that can be added in the form of fertilizers. In fact, fertilizer use was one of the key driving forces for the ‘Green Revolution’.

More than five decades later, research indicates that crop yield has plateaued as far as input of nutrients is concerned. This, in turn means that applying additional and excessive nutrients in the form of fertilizers is not necessarily increasing the crop yield but can also contribute to environmental issues such as eutrophication of water bodies and nitrate leaching.
One way to address this problem is to improve the nutrient utilization efficiency (NUE) in crop plants. Novel biotechnologies can be used to improve plants to be inherently better in nutrient acquisition, absorption and distribution.

To this end, the Institute for International Crop Improvement-Gene Evaluation (IICI-GE) laboratory at the Danforth Center is partnering with the Iowa Corn Promotion Board (ICPB) to explore the opportunities for innovation in NUE traits.

We will be testing the potential in corn of key proprietary gene(s) to achieve either same yield at lower nutrient input or higher yield at same nutrient input. The IICI-GE laboratory will test these proprietary gene(s) in transgenic corn using the Danforth Plant Science Center’s state-of-the-art core facilities.

The scientific discoveries and advancements made in this project would not only directly benefit corn farmers at home but the IICI would have access to share these discoveries to improve NUE in food security crops in the developing world.

Learn more about the Institute for International Crop Improvement here.

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