Seed companies have relied on traditional plant breeding to develop drought-tolerant corn in hopes of enabling their customers to continue to produce corn crops even during years of drought conditions. Syngenta took a new approach using Illumina genotyping arrays and sequencers. By understanding the biology behind drought-tolerant genetic traits, the company developed a more drought-tolerant corn hybrid.
The Syngenta team focused on developing a hybrid that makes the most of available water. They conducted genome-wide association studies (GWAS) using Illumina’s HiSeq 2500 Sequencing System and identified corn genes that impact different plant structures or processes positively when the plant is under water stress. The result is the “Agrisure Artesian” corn hybrid.
“Under water stress, such as prolonged, significant drought, we’ve increased corn yield as much as 40 percent with the Artesian trait versus a hybrid without the trait,” said Dr. Duane Martin, product lead in Commercial at Syngenta. “The Illumina-based expression data sets on the HiSeq 2500 System are supporting development of the next generation of Artesian alleles at higher resolutions of trait impact and potential modes of action.”