Scientists at Monsanto (NYSE: MON) are a step closer to further unlocking the yield potential of corn to help enable each seed to increase its ability meet the world’s growing demand for food, feed and fuel.
The company announced today it has produced a genetic blueprint of one of its top-performing elite female corn lines. The scientific achievement, important for developing better-performing corn seeds for farmers, was made through the use of high throughput DNA sequencing methods, as well as data generated by the recently completed maize genome project.
“These sequencing efforts will not only identify preferred genes for our research and development pipelines, but move us into a high-definition molecular breeding era that uses a combination of sequence and markers to derive future higher-yielding hybrids globally,” said Monsanto Chief Technology Officer Dr. Robert Fraley.
High throughput sequencing methods enable scientists to rapidly identify variations in the genomes of complex organisms. In health care, for example, high throughput sequencing aids in the discovery of gene variants that can lead to development of new medicines.
“In agriculture, high throughput sequencing has the potential to provide an unprecedented level of detail about our current market-leading hybrids and to point us in the direction of meeting Monsanto’s commitment to double yields in our core crops by 2030,” said Fraley.
In February, scientists led by a team of researchers at Washington University completed a draft sequence of the corn genome. Monsanto contributed valuable data that led to completion of the draft sequence. Fraley said the company is analyzing the blueprint of its own elite line in comparison to the public maize genome sequence to identify genes Monsanto will use in its breeding and biotechnology pipelines to develop future hybrids.
Hybrid corn seed is planted by farmers each spring and is developed by crossing two corn inbred parents, male and female. Monsanto’s elite parents represent the culmination of more than a decade of intensive breeding effort, Fraley said.
In June the company announced a three-point commitment to agriculture sustainability, which includes the goal of developing better seeds to enable famers to double yields in corn, cotton and soybeans by the year 2030, compared to a base year of 2000; helping farmers reduce by one-third the amount of key resources required to grow crops by the year 2030; and helping to improve farmers’ lives globally.