Over expression of zmm28 increases maize grain yield in the field

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Abstract or Summary

In the approaching decades, food security will likely be more of an issue as there will be an increased demand for grain which will need to be met in an environmentally sustainable manner. To date, commercial transgenic maize has primarily targeted resistance to insects and herbicides. Here we describe a transgenic approach to improve the yield and yield stability of maize. We have demonstrated that increasing and extending the expression of a maize gene, zmm28, alters vegetative and reproductive growth parameters and significantly enhances yield in large-scale field trials conducted over multiple years. We conclude that alteration in expression of a native maize gene in maize can create a substantially positive change in a complex trait like grain yield.

Increasing maize grain yield has been a major focus of both plant breeding and genetic engineering to meet the global demand for food, feed, and industrial uses. We report that increasing and extending expression of a maize MADS-box transcription factor gene, zmm28, under the control of a moderate-constitutive maize promoter, results in maize plants with increased plant growth, photosynthesis capacity, and nitrogen utilization. Molecular and biochemical characterization of zmm28 transgenic plants demonstrated that their enhanced agronomic traits are associated with elevated plant carbon assimilation, nitrogen utilization, and plant growth. Overall, these positive attributes are associated with a significant increase in grain yield relative to wild-type controls that is consistent across years, environments, and elite germplasm backgrounds.


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