A secure and sustainable food supply in a climate that is changing quickly and becoming more unpredictable? As both the growing need and increasing difficulty hit home, so is the pressure on plant breeders to speed up the generation of new, more-resilient crops.
A whopping $3.99M grant from the National Science Foundation should help. Researchers in the Dept. of Tropical Plant and Soil Sciences will use the sizable award to begin developing an efficient, robust genome engineering toolkit for plant breeders to use. Their first target will be maize, the biggest commodity crop grown in Hawaiʻi – with plenty of genetic diversity.
“We are trying to replicate some of the molecular genetic events which allowed tropical maize to become adapted to temperate latitudes,” says Mike Muszynski. “But instead of taking several thousand years of random mutation and artificial selection, we will use modern genome engineering techniques to achieve the same outcome in 3-4 years.”
The project includes Tessie Amore, Rock Du, and Amy Hubbard in collaboration with researchers at Iowa State U.
Read the UH News article.