Clemson University scientists have found a way to keep corn producing food for longer, which could dramatically improve crop yields worldwide.
The researchers studied senescence, or cell aging, in corn to determine which genes cause the corn to age. The team looked at hundreds of genes in the genome of maize to either find a way to keep senescence genes from signaling or to genetically select different types of maize that produce crops for longer.
Farmers have been selected for “evergreen” strands of corn for years, because the plants produce for longer and remain green. However, it was previously unknown what was responsible for the improved yield in these crops until this study.
The researchers hope the genes identified in the maize will translate to other cereal crops, such as rice, wheat and sorghum. If scientists can keep crops green longer, producing more food, they could improve food security worldwide.