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Corn dwarfed by temperature dip suitable for growing in mines, caves
Date:5/12/2014

e plants with such luxurious conditions that the corn was touching the lamps before it had even tasseled," he said.

To reduce the corn's height, the researchers borrowed a trick used by the greenhouse industry to dwarf Christmas poinsettias. Using a growth chamber that mimicked the temperature conditions and carbon dioxide levels of the Marengo mine, they dropped the temperature to 60 degrees Fahrenheit for the first two hours of each photoperiod, the time in which the corn received light. The temperature was restored to 80 degrees for 14 hours and then lowered to 65 degrees for eight hours of darkness.

The temperature dip dwarfed stalk height by 9 to 10 percent and reduced stalk diameter by 8 to 9 percent without significantly affecting the number and weight of the seeds.

"This is a technique you could easily do in a mine or cave," Mitchell said. "It is an affordable, non-chemical means of taking genetically modified crops to harvest maturity without getting any kind of pollen or seed into the ecosystem."

He said that former mines could be prime locations to grow high-value, transgenic plants because their natural coolness lessens the need to ventilate the heat produced by lamps. The high levels of carbon dioxide in mines also promote plant growth.

"Productivity in a controlled environment is superior to that in the field, and you can raise more than one crop per year," Mitchell said. "Controlled environment agriculture is going to be one of the big movements of the 21st century."


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Contact: Natalie van Hoose
nvanhoos@purdue.edu
765-496-2050
Purdue University
Source:Eurekalert  

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