Texas Corn Producers Board (TCPB) believes strongly in the importance of conducting research to progress the agricultural sector. Each year, the checkoff board funds several research projects to further this mission. The board is proud to announce that a TCPB-funded research project brought home a first-place title at the Crop Science Society of America’s (CSSA) International Meeting.

Alper Adak, a Texas A&M University doctorate student and researcher on the project, set a goal to identify genetic loci for delayed flowering caused by photoperiod sensitivity, which is a major barrier to getting southern-bred adapted hybrid seed to Texas producers.

His research was led by Seth Murray, Ph.D., the principal investigator & professor at for the Department of Soil and Crop Sciences at Texas A&M. Together, their first year of data and research proved to be walking toward a solution to identifying the genes that cause delayed flowering.

Since 1998, TCPB has funded Texas A&M AgriLife Research’s corn breeding program. The funding for Murray and Adak project was renewed for the 2020 fiscal year, amplifying this substantial research portfolio aimed to diversify corn seed for Texas producers.

Texas, the southern United States and Bolivia (where these genetics are from) are regions that have the proper environment to grow stress-resistant tropical seeds. Unfortunately, hybrid seed for Texas producers is mostly produced in the Corn Belt each year where these genetics flower too late. It is difficult for researchers in areas like Texas, which have a much different period of sunlight exposure, to adapt these genetics aimed at making corn versatile to an array of growing areas. Adak and Murray’s studies were set on the solution of finding DNA marker(s) that control the flowering time to manipulate this complex trait for future use. They will now use the DNA markers to select maize varieties that flowered with the desired amount of light rather than traveling around the U.S. to collect results.

Alper Adak with his research poster.

Adak placed first in the CSSA research contest with his poster presentation.

The studies were done in three different areas: Texas, Iowa and Wisconsin. Adak took the findings from the 2018 year and presented them at CSSA-2019 meeting where he took home first place. CSSA is known for hosting one of the most prestigious crop academic contests in the world where there are upwards of 30 graduate students in each respective category.

“This is one of the largest crop science meetings in the world,” Murray said. “The organizers of the poster competition were from private companies and thought the topic is very important for the industry as a whole.

So, I think Alper did an awesome job with his poster, his figures and talk, but I think they also believed that it’s an important problem.”

Adak has now concluded the process of collecting data from the 2019 trials and he will take another step forward in his research and confirm his findings in 2020.

Researchers interested in progressing the corn industry through research and wish to seek funding opportunities can learn more on the TCP website. For those interested in details on this research project and others funded by the state’s corn checkoff, visit TCP’s research abstract page. 

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