WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. — Purdue University scientists will
receive $1.1 million to find ways to increase maize’s tolerance to heat.
The work will be done through the International Maize and
Wheat Improvement Center to develop heat-tolerant maize for Asia with funding
from the U.S. Agency for International Development.
Mitch Tuinstra, a Purdue professor, Wickersham Chair of
Agronomy and principal investigator of the grant, said finding ways to grow
maize in the hotter climates of South Asia could help combat malnutrition and
hunger issues in those countries.
Understanding ways to adapt the crop to heat and drought
also could help growers in the U.S. where climate change is expected to increase
stress on crops.
“There is a lot of concern about how climate change will
affect crops, but we know almost nothing about thermal tolerance in corn,” the
Tuinstra and co-principal investigator Guri Johal, a Purdue
professor of botany and plant pathology, will evaluate temperate and tropical
types of maize to identify genes and determine physiological mechanisms that
allow them to stand up to heat and drought stresses. They will work with
collaborators in India, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Nepal.
“This is work that takes Purdue’s strength in plant genetics
and uses it to address problems that we share with people all around the world,”
Purdue President Mitch Daniels said.
The work is part of a larger public-private partnership
called the Heat Tolerant Maize for Asia project. Private partners, including
Pioneer Hi-Bred, Vibha AgriTech, Ajeet Seeds and Kaveri Seeds, will join
national agriculture research programs in India, Nepal, Pakistan and
“Dr. Tuinstra’s work embodies the College of Agriculture’s
commitment to research with purpose leading to discovery with impact,” said Jay
Akridge, the Glenn W. Sample Dean of the College of Agriculture.
“This work to improve crops through his genetics research
has the potential to not only help U.S. growers but also make important
advancements in efforts to feed the world’s growing population.”
The project is a public-private alliance led by the
International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center. It includes Purdue and Pioneer
Hi-Bred, as well as public and private sector maize breeding programs in South