PI: Thomas P. Brutnell (Donald Danforth Plant Science Center)

CoPI: Erik W. Vollbrecht (Iowa State University)

Key Collaborator: Jonathan P. Duvick (Iowa State University)

Maize is the most economically important food, feed and biofuel crop grown in the US. Its predominance as a staple grain for the US and abroad is built on an extremely broad germplasm base and upon highly successful breeding efforts. However, as world population and energy costs increase at an alarming rate, we are faced with the need for a second green revolution. This will include developing second generation crops and developing new germplasm with enhanced resistance to drought, salt tolerance and improved nitrogen use efficiency. At the core of these efforts is a need to link genotype to phenotype. That is, how does genotypic variation contribute to phenotypic variation? Mutational analysis has been the cornerstone of genetics and has been an essential tool to link genotypic variation to phenotypic variation. Thus, the goal of this project is to develop an extremely powerful reverse genetics resource to define gene function in maize. A sequence-indexed collection of over 1,500 Ds insertion lines will serve as a foundation for this project. The tendency of Ds to insert to closely linked sites will be exploited to generate loss-of-function gene insertions, map the boundaries of genes, including promoter and enhancer elements, and define the gene space in QTL intervals. A community-driven, tiered "Ds knockout" service will be developed to extend the utility of Ds insertional mutagenesis to serve scientists with varying resources. Candidate genes will be solicited from the community with the expectation that multiple alleles of each targeted gene will be recovered from local Ds insertions. A web-based public interface will also be developed to provide detailed information on the Ds insertions available in the collection as well as new tools for designing reverse genetic screens that incorporate the insertion site preferences of Ds.

A central aim of this project is to bring the excitement of ongoing plant science research into high school classrooms through innovative curricula. For each of the three years of the grant, a Curriculum Development Workshop (CDW) will be held at the Boyce Thompson Institute. The goal of the CDW is to develop inquiry-based plant science activities for high school, community college and small college biology courses. Teachers will receive funding for necessary lab and teaching materials and will work with a postdoctoral associate and an outreach coordinator to implement these modules during the academic year. Workshops will also be held to train graduate students, postdocs and PI in the genetic and molecular techniques required to best exploit the Ds lines developed during this project. Data generated through this project, project updates and links to genetic materials will be posted at www.plantgdb.org/prj/AcDsTagging/ and www.maizegdb.org/

National Science Foundation (NSF)
Division of Integrative Organismal Systems (IOS)
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carlos vallejos
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Donald Danforth Plant Science Center
St. Louis
United States
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