This project is developing new traits and phenotyping platforms to improve the drought tolerance of maize.

Understanding the genetic and physiological basis of crop adaptation to drought is a key challenge of the 21st century. This is especially important for maize, a principal global crop that is important for food security in developing nations and for the agricultural economy of the USA and other wealthy nations. In this project we are investigating the physiological basis of drought tolerance in maize, utilizing a naturally drought-prone site in Chile, field rainout shelters in PA, and greenhouse mesocosms. We collaborate with Shawn Kaeppler and Natalia de Leon of the University of Wisconsin, who lead the genetic components of the project. In this project we have discovered a novel root trait that appears to improve maize growth under drought stress, and have developed high-throughput phenotyping platforms to deploy this trait in maize improvement programs.

Researchers on this project