Pioneer Hi-Bred’s research efforts to increase a corn plant’s ability to use nitrogen will get a boost from collaboration with a biotech company. Pioneer’s parent company DuPont has signed an agreement with Plant Sensory Systems, a Baltimore, Md., company that develops traits for crops. The agreement allows Pioneer to evaluate Plant Sensory Systems’ genes related to a corn plant’s nitrogen use efficiency.
Pioneer has ongoing research into nitrogen use efficiency but does not expect to have a product ready for the market until the end of the decade.
Researchers at Pioneer’s research center near Davis, Calif., have studied nitrogen use in corn. Last year, the company hosted media at the research center and gave tours of the nitrogen use efficiency corn plots.
Researchers explained that the goal is to maintain yields with less nitrogen. They seek genes to help the corn plant use nitrogen more efficiently so growers can apply less fertilizer. Fertilizer is a significant cost to corn production.
There is also a component related to world hunger. Pioneer researchers said that in poverty-stricken areas of the world, little if any nitrogen is applied to a corn crop. If genes can be found to help a plant grow better with less nitrogen, farmers in Third World countries will be able to grow more corn for food.
Plant Sensory Systems also has developed traits that increase yields, improve water use, offer tolerance to drought and high temperatures, increase seed oil content, and enhance nutritional value. For more information visit www.plantsensorysystems.com.