Maize is a major component of diets worldwide. It is also a major commodity crop in the U.S. that is used as feedstock for biofuels, as animal feed, and as a source of raw materials for the production of refined industrial products. Several diseases affect maize production globally and regionally, reducing both biomass yield and grain quality. To improve maize yields, researchers are interested in learning how plant hosts and their growing environments influence endophyte diversity and complexity. This information is expected to serve as the basis for future studies in which the microbiomes of “healthy”, resistant, and diseased plants can be compared. The MetaMaize project focuses on five field-grown maize inbred lines of diverse lineage as the source of aboveground tissues for characterizing culturable and unculturable fungal and bacterial/archaeal endophyte communities. Learning more about these endophyte communities is expected to lead to crop strains with increased plant health and optimal biomass production.
Proposer’s Name: Rebecca J. Nelson