plant breeding

Junior in agronomy Marjorie Hanneman spent her summer working for Bayer Crop Science in Ankeny, Iowa at the high throughput genotyping facility as the Molecular Breeding Intern.

On a daily basis, Marjorie utilized lab robots to conduct real time PCR on a variety of crops and genetic traits. The project she worked on focused on testing and validating new master mix for quality and efficiency across crops, markers, and traits. She also used automated machinery to complete her daily activities as well as data collection and analysis.

"My favorite part of my internship was being able to complete lab work at such a large scale. I was able to work with about 15 different crops and learn how to manage huge data sets and design experiments. I also enjoyed working with state of the art machinery and robots and being at the forefront of biotechnology," Marjorie said.

Plant architecture

Several hormones are involved in the biochemical and physiological responses that determine plant architecture characteristics highly correlated with biomass yield such as plant height, leaf angle, stem diameter, tillering, number of florets, etc. Brassinosteroids, gibberellins and auxins have the strongest impact without severe undesirable pleiotropic effects.

Photosynthesis in sorghum under non-stress, cold and drought stress

licorCarbon assimilation through photosynthesis is the basis of crop productivity. However, increases in crop yield achieved in the last 50 years have not been attributed to changes in photosynthetic capacity. The complex genetic architecture of C assimilation and the lack of correlation between grain yield and photosynthesis were the most important arguments to postpone significant investments in this scientific area.

Sorghum breeding program for biofuel production

Biofuels are a major contributor to the energy security of the United States, to the economic growth of Iowa and to the reduction of greenhouse gasses emission. The Energy Independence and Security Act (2007) established that 36 billion gallons of biofuels per year had to be produced by 2022. In 2018, 16 billion gallons of ethanol were produced from maize, but maize-based ethanol cannot supply the total demand and it has detrimental implications for food and feed supplies. Therefore, other sources, such as lignocellulosic feedstock, need to be developed.

Leandro Tonello Zuffo, a PhD student visiting from Federal University of Viçosa in Brazil with an interest in agronomy arrived to Iowa State University on August 30, 2018 and is conducting research with Dr. Thomas Lubberstedt. Leandro’s research focus is on the application of tools and methods provided by genome analysis to understand the composition of complex traits and phenomena, to determine and exploit genetic diversity in elite and exotic germplasm and apply this knowledge to plant breeding.

Thoughts from our Anne Dinges who attended the National Conferences on Undergraduate Research last month at Kennesaw State University, just north of Atlanta, Georgia.

"It was a rewarding experience to present my research at a conference of 4,000 presenters. During my poster session, I had people that came up with varying levels of plant genetics knowledge. I was able to tell those with very little about my project, experience, and the potential impact it could have on farmers in the future. On the other hand, I had a couple in-depth conversations regarding current and future plant biotechnology with people that are studying exactly that at other universities.  

Tanner M Cook
Graduate Assistant-Research
Thomas Lubberstedt Lab

New research published this week identifies the genomic features that might have made domestication possible for corn and soybeans, two of the world’s most critical crop species.

The research, published Wednesday in the peer-reviewed academic journal Genome Biology, has implications for how scientists understand domestication, or the process by which humans have been able to breed plants for desirable traits through centuries of cultivation. The researchers drew on vast amounts of data on the genomes of corn and soybeans and compared particular sections of the genomes of wild species and domestic varieties, noting where the genomes diverged most markedly.

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