Sunday, August 31, 2008

Scientists discover key to cold tolerance in corn - longer growing season, growth in colder regions possible for tropical crops

Biopact: Demand for corn - the world's number one feed grain and a staple food for many - is outstripping supply, resulting in large price increases that are forecast to continue over the next several years. Part of the reason for this state of things is the heavy reliance of the U.S. biofuels industry on corn. However, if this crop's intolerance of low temperatures could somehow be overcome, then the length of the growing season, and yield, could be increased at present sites of cultivation and its range extended into colder regions.

Drs. Dafu Wang, Archie Portis, Steve Moose, and Steve Long in the Department of Crop Sciences and the Institute of Genomic Biology at the University of Illinois may have made a crucial breakthrough on this front, as reported in the September issue of the journal Plant Physiology. Interestingly, their discovery goes beyond corn and may make it possible to breed highly productive food and energy crops like sugar cane in such a way that they can grow at higher latitudes....

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