Navigation Links
Rutgers researchers discover secrets of nutritious corn breed that withstands rigors of handling
Date:7/6/2010

NEW BRUNSWICK, N.J. Rutgers researchers have discovered the basis for what makes corn kernels hard, a quality that allows corn to be easily harvested, stored and transported. The findings could lead to better hybrids and increase the supply for people in developing countries who rely on it as a nutritional staple.

The discovery explains how a breed of corn known as "quality protein maize," or QPM, incorporates two qualities essential for an economical and nutritious food crop: a source of key protein ingredients as well as a hard-shelled kernel.

Until the arrival of QPM a decade ago, corn did not provide a balanced protein mix when used as a sole food source. A hybrid developed in 1960 increased protein levels with essential amino acids but was commercially unsuccessful, because its soft kernels subjected the harvest to spoilage.

In a paper posted this week to the online early edition of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS), Rutgers geneticists reported their findings about genetic coding responsible for making QPM kernels sturdy. The sturdiness results from threshold levels of a specific gene product encoded by two gene copies. Their investigation explains the role of this gene product in generating a protein matrix around starch particles that imparts seed strength.

"While QPM was developed in the late 1990s, scientists have not had a thorough knowledge of how kernel strength could be achieved in a rational way," said Joachim Messing, professor of molecular genetics at Rutgers. "Our work contributes knowledge that will help other scientists develop better hybrids going forward, either through traditional breeding techniques or genetic engineering."

At the same time, the Rutgers findings will help scientists understand more about the evolution of seeds and their components.

Corn is naturally low in lysine and tryptophan, amino acids that are essential to make corn an adequate source of protein. Some societies supplement corn with soybeans or other sources of protein in human food and livestock feed. Yet there are societies, generally in South America and Africa, where people rely on corn as their sole source of nutrition.

"QPM has made strides in overcoming malnutrition in these populations, but to make it more available to people who need it, modern approaches to breeding called 'marker-assisted breeding' will be superior in adapting local corn varieties for these people," said Messing, who is also director of the Waksman Institute of Microbiology.

As part of the investigation, Rutgers postdoctoral researcher Yongrui Wu used a technique to eliminate, or "knock out," the expression of the genes that geneticists suspected were involved in QPM kernel hardness. After knocking out these two genes, responsible for producing proteins known as gamma zeins, Wu observed softer kernels in the offspring.

Detailed investigation of original and knockout kernels using electron microscopy revealed that soft kernels lacked a proteinaceous matrix interconnecting starchy components while providing structural integrity. Such structures were not present in the knockout offspring. The researchers therefore pegged the gamma zeins regulated by these two genes, labeled 16- and 27-kDa gamma zein, as key components of this molecular structure and, as a result, QPM's hardness.

The softer, commercially unsuccessful hybrid from 1960 had higher levels of lysine and tryptophan because it had reduced levels of several categories of zein proteins, which conferred kernel hardness but crowded out other proteins that carried lysine and tryptophan. QPM has the gamma zeins responsible for the hardness-preserving structure while still lacking other zeins that crowded out nutritional proteins.


'/>"/>

Contact: Carl Blesch
cblesch@ur.rutgers.edu
732-932-7084 x616
Rutgers University
Source:Eurekalert  

Related biology news :

1. Rutgers cell biologist pinpoints how RNA viruses copy themselves
2. NSF grant supports Rutgers-Camden program for science majors
3. TAXIS Pharmaceuticals licenses novel antimicrobial technology from Rutgers and UMDNJ
4. Rutgers to collaborate in $3.4 million effort to improve prostate cancer identification using MRI
5. Rutgers-Camden developing enzyme function database
6. Rutgers research tackles childhood epilepsy
7. Rutgers study finds many consumers ignore food product recalls
8. Evolution and climate change research advances at Rutgers-Camden
9. Rutgers receives US$10 million to establish Institute for Food, Nutrition and Health
10. Rutgers scholar authors definitive biography of reproductive medicine pioneer
11. No helicopter moms among Rutgers mutant mice
Post Your Comments:
*Name:
*Comment:
*Email:
Related Image:
Rutgers researchers discover secrets of nutritious corn breed that withstands rigors of handling
(Date:3/9/2016)... -- This BCC Research report provides an overview of ... (RNA Seq) market for the years 2015, 2016 and ... data analysis, and services. Use this report ... such as RNA-Sequencing tools and reagents, RNA-Sequencing data analysis, ... segment and forecast their market growth, future trends and ...
(Date:3/3/2016)...  FlexTech, a SEMI Strategic Association Partner, awarded five ... Development, Leadership in Education, and, in a category new ... year of the FLEXI Awards and the winners ... past years . Judging was done on a ... criteria, by a panel of non-affiliated, independent, industry experts. ...
(Date:3/2/2016)... , March 2, 2016 ... of the "Global Biometrics as a ... offering. --> http://www.researchandmarkets.com/research/cmt3hk/global_biometrics ) ... "Global Biometrics as a Service Market 2016-2020" ... --> Research and Markets ( http://www.researchandmarkets.com/research/cmt3hk/global_biometrics ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:5/3/2016)... Westminster, CO (PRWEB) , ... May 03, 2016 ... ... analysis , announced the addition of Dr. Nancy Gillett to its Board of ... last position, she served as Corporate Executive Vice President and Chief Scientific Officer. ...
(Date:5/3/2016)... (PRWEB) , ... May 03, 2016 , ... According to ... , for definitive prostate cancer treatment, patients traditionally had two main treatment options: surgery ... plan would be made. , New technology has enabled doctors to administer higher ...
(Date:5/2/2016)... , ... May 02, 2016 , ... ... report on the pre-launch success of their revolutionary, veterinarian-designed product for indoor cats. ... stalk, trap, and play with their food the way nature intended. NoBowls make ...
(Date:4/29/2016)... ... 2016 , ... During a two day program for start-up ... CereScan’s CEO, John Kelley, joined other Denver business leaders in providing business basics ... Denver area business community, shared his top fundamental learnings in building an effective, ...
Breaking Biology Technology: