The 49th annual Maize Genetics Conference demonstrated a new level of cooperation between scientists working to improve corn genetics. Pam Johnson, chairman of the National Corn Growers Association's Research and Business Development Action Team, says the geneticists who are mapping the maize plant genome and the breeders and agronomists who will ultimately use those findings to breed better corn are working together towards the same end.
"Many stakeholders will need to collaborate as we move forward," Johnson says. "The genome sequence is about half-completed. It will take innovation, creativity, discovery and the ability to translate that knowledge to application in the corn plant. We want an aggressive strategic plan for collaboration and results. They're doing wonderful research, and we want to keep the ball rolling."
NCGA wants to create a pipeline between basic research, like mapping the genotype, and product development. The association supports efforts to promote a phenotypic "library", a guide to how each gene's characteristics are expressed in the corn plant.
"The next step will be for the breeders, agronomists, nutritionists and others to give feedback about what is needed," says Johnson.