Securing Food, Feed, and Fuel via Natural Diversity: Spotlight on the Maize Genome

Friday, 14 February 2014: 8:00 AM-9:30 AM
Crystal Ballroom A (Hyatt Regency Chicago)
Farmers and plant breeders around the world have always worked to optimize the agricultural plants that support their societies. Given the current trends of climate change, booming human and livestock populations, and increasing demand for biofuels, the pressure on crops and croplands has never been greater. Fortunately, this challenge coincides with an unprecedented moment in science. Innovative, interdisciplinary research programs are poised to deliver knowledge and tools that can help secure food, feed, and fuel for a changing world. Genome-enabled selection can accelerate the breeding of plants adapted for climate change, modified to enhance nutrition, or tailored for more economical biofuel production. Such goals can be achieved by bringing out traits hidden in a plant's own genome—variations accumulated through evolution, inherited and modified down through the generations, though perhaps not expressed in modern varieties. Tapping this inherent, natural diversity is the key, whether through genome-wide approaches or by targeting links between specific genes and traits. This symposium explains genome-enabled selection, presenting recent advances and highlighting the maize genome. Arguably the world's most important crop, maize has another distinction: a genome exceptionally rich in natural diversity. Thus the story of exploring the maize genome is a paradigm for understanding the problems and opportunities associated with all agricultural plants.
Patrick Regan, Technical University Munich
Ulrich Marsch, Technical University Munich
and Barbara Wankerl, Technical University Munich
Chris-Carolin Schön, Technical University Munich
Predicting Complex Phenotypes for Genome-Enabled Crop and Livestock Breeding