Syngenta offers first ‘water-optimized’ technology for corn
News Apr 29, 2011
By DALE HILDEBRANT Farm & Ranch Guide | 0 comments
Syngenta, through their “gene blueprinting” process, recently announced their new “Agrisure Artesian” technology trait for corn. These “water-optimized” hybrids have shown around a15 percent yield preservation when subjected to drought stress in field trials.
Gene blueprinting in this situation is a proprietary process that Syngenta used to develop a corn trait that helps corn yield better under drought stress, according to Wayne Fithian, head of technical information services for Syngenta. This research has led to the industry’s first water-optimized technology for corn hybrids known as Agrisure Artesian technology.
This is designed to improve yields on dryland and limited-irrigated corn in low rainfall environments, as well as acres in higher rainfall areas that are prone to moisture stress. Research on this new technology has demonstrated that a 15 percent yield preservation under moderate to severe moisture stress.
“Really this is a lot more than drought stress,” Fithian said in a webinar discussing the release of the new technology. “We have used gene blueprinting to bring some pretty exciting genes into elite backgrounds and change the dynamics of how corn interacts with water.”
When selecting genes that would impact the water-optimizing characteristics of a corn plant, it was first necessary to identify how moisture stress affects the corn plant, both in terms of severity of the stress and when it occurred in a plant’s life, according to Robert Benson, traits genetics lead for the project.
When the stress comes in the early to mid-point of the plant’s life the main negative impacts are:
– Reduced plant and ear height
– Reduced leaf size and canopy coverage
– Reduced ear size
But, if the moisture stress comes at a later time of the plant’s life the results are:
– Poor pollination rates
– Aborted kernels
– Reduced kernel size
“At flowering time is when the corn plant has the highest demand for water and that’s a period when it’s most vulnerable to stress,” Benson said. “And frequently that’s a period of time when the water stops – the rain stops in July in the western corn belt.”
Benson stressed that in developing water-optimizing technology they look at many different plant modes including root growth and how the root uptakes water into the plant; the various moisture stress protectors already contained in the plant; the general growth regulators the plant possesses and traits that can help increase yield and quality at times of flowering and ear development.
These genes are all naturally occurring in corn, which sets it apart from genetically modified varieties that may insert genetic material that doesn’t naturally occur in corn.
“Instead we look at all of the modes that we feel are major contributors so that the product that we are bringing to market has impacts across a number of modes of action,” Benson said.
Fithian explained how this gene blueprinting process differs from the regular breeding programs that are commonplace. Hybrids developed with gene blueprinting will have the same or better yield potential under well watered conditions as the conventional hybrids. But when moisture stress conditions occur the plants with the Agrisure Artesian technology will yield better than those lacking the technology.
In actual field tests done in 2010, those hybrids with the water-optimized traits showed good yield stability and adaptation across a wide range of environments.
Fithian expects gene blueprinting will be used in other areas where corn plants come under stress during the growing season, including areas such a nitrogen usage.
“Gene blueprinting is a process that allows us to leverage genetic diversity within corn,” Fithian said. “Agrisure Artesian is the first example of a product we brought to market using gene blueprinting. Any kind of corn characteristic that you can look at and see variation of in the field and then look into your candidate genes and identify variation in your genes – you can use gene blueprinting to bring that technology to the market.”
The technology will see limited use this year and will be available through the Syngenta dealer network that includes Garst, Golden Harvest and NK seed distributors. The launch will take place with a 109-day hybrid, which is designed for areas south of this region. Many of these lines will incorporate corn root and corn borer resistance plus glyphosate technology. However, Fithian said there will be additional hybrids and relative maturity ranges brought to market in 2012 that will have the Argisure Artesian technology.
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