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Genetic, molecular and physiological characterization of leaf area mutants for enhanced water-use efficiency in Zea mays L

As the world population and food demand grow, there is an increased chance of food shortages, especially in nations where land and water resources are constrained. Greater crop production will be required to provide global food security for the growing population. However, this cannot be sustainably achieved by simply converting natural ecosystems into cropland. In addition to land-use needs, fresh water resources for agricultural irrigation are also a danger to the environmental equilibrium. An acre of Zea mays on average transpires 3,000 - 4,000 gallons of water daily (Leopold and Langbein, 1960). This highlights the need for improvements in crop production in response to the increasing population and global climate change. Our project seeks to develop efficient and sustainable crops for global food security. A mutation in Z. mays, identified at the University of Illinois, has narrow leaves but increases grain yield. This mutation has the potential to considerably reduce plant water loss via transpiration while also allowing more plants to be grown per acre. Although this mutant has promising agricultural implications, the underlying biological mechanisms are unknown. Several genetic, physiological, and molecular techniques were used to characterize this mutation and further assess its value in solving the challenges facing our planet.

Author: 
Bryan Pérez-Santiago
School: 
University of Puerto Rico - Aguadilla
Department: 
Biological Sciences
Research Advisor: 
Dr. Anthony Studer
Department of Research Advisor: 
Crop Sciences
Year of Publication: 
2017