Maize Genetics and Breeding


Research lines

Pest resistance, focused on corn borer. There is a negative relationship between resistance and yield. We are studying the genomic regions and genes involved on both characters, as well as plant defense mechanisms to find the basis of this relationship. We are also trying to develop the appropriate selection method for overcoming this negative relationship. We investigate on phenotypic selection for yield under high pest intensity and on genomic selection for yield and resistance.

Tolerance to abiotic stresses: Cold tolerance in germination and drought. The main objectives are the identification of genes involved in tolerance, mechanisms of tolerance and the relationship of tolerance to cold, to drought and tolerance to other stresses. We also develop material combining different cold tolerance mechanisms and we develop cold-tolerant and / or drought tolerant inbred lines. We are designing a genomic selection program to improve cold tolerance based on European germplasm diversity.

Disease and grain contamination with mycotoxins resistance focusing on Fusarium verticilloides and fumonisins. We investigate genetic and environmental factors involved on fungi infection and / or contamination with mycotoxins and molecular mechanisms (genes and metabolites) that plants use for limiting fungal growth and subsequent mycotoxin contamination. Furthermore, we try to release inbred lines resistant to micotoxin contamination.

Quality maize for human consumption. We research on sweet corn to develop new populations, to improve sweet corn quality, and to indentify genes involved on sweet mutant viability. We also analyze several quality factors, such as antioxidant effects or kernel pigments, to develop improved varieties of maize for bread and functional foods.

Develop of varieties for both food and energy uses. We are studying how to optimize the production of bioenergy (through combustion and / or the production of ethanol by fermentation) of sugar-free or lignocellulosic biomass corn waste. Specifically, we focus on stay green material.

Study of cell wall fortification focusing on phenylpropanoids pathway (hydroxycinnamic acids and lignin). We are evaluating the role of hydroxicinnamic acids in stress resistance, in digestibility and bioenergy production. We also study the ferulic acid dimerization process from a genetic point of view.

Long term selection programs to develop breeding populations. They can be used directly in specialized agriculture, such as organic agriculture, or as sources of new inbred lines.

Popcorn, to develop material adapted to different environments, focusing on wetlands.