Creating Corn to Survive the Cold Spells
Though it is so prominent nation- and worldwide, corn is actually a tropical crop. As demand for food grows with a growing population, new efforts are in the works to increase the cold tolerance of this staple crop.
Former research found that the enzyme Rubisco, critical for turning carbon dioxide into sugar, decreases when plants are exposed to cold weather. Therefore, David Stern with the Boyce Thompson Institute, a research center housed on Cornell’s campus, and a team of researchers tested the idea that increased Rubisco content in corn could lead to more vigorous plants.
Their hypothesis proved true, as their engineered corn produced taller plants with larger ears after being exposed to cold temperatures.
Although they had success with the new corn variety, Stern emphasized that it is not yet ready to be used on a widespread scale. He also sees potential for the same methods to be used to increase the cold-hardiness of crops like sugarcane and sorghum.
Learn more about efforts in creating corn able to thrive in colder conditions in this CALS online news piece.