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Corn Research Could Lead To Better Hybrids, Increased Food Supply

July 6, 2010: 02:48 PM EST
When sturdy, nutritious “quality protein maize” (QPM) arrived on the agricultural scene ten years ago, it solved a perplexing problem: the need for corn that provides a balanced protein mix and has kernels hard enough to withstand the rigors of harvest, storage and transportation. Now U.S. researchers have discovered how genetic coding makes corn kernels hard. The sturdiness results from threshold levels of a specific gene product encoded by two gene copies. Their findings explain the role of this gene product in generating a protein matrix around starch particles that imparts seed strength. The findings, the researchers said, could lead to better hybrids and increase the supply for people in developing countries who rely on it as a nutritional staple.
Yongrui Wu, David R. Holding, Joachim Messing, "?-Zeins are essential for endosperm modification in quality protein maize", Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, July 06, 2010, © National Academy of Sciences
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