Pollen researched with plant heat stress resilience

Pollen researched with plant heat stress resilience

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Pollen researched with plant heat stress resilience

To better understand the impact of heat stress, a new investigation by University of Florida scientists is exploring how pollen develops in corn. Researchers hope to identify genetic resiliency markers that may inform future corn-breeding efforts.

Higher-than-anticipated temperatures can lead to water loss, wilted foliage and unsuccessful pollination.

“From a scientific standpoint, we want to understand how pollen development in corn is impacted by stressors,” assistant professor Kevin Begcy says. 

Begcy’s new research may boost breeding and production of corn and other crops nationwide. 

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“But from a practical standpoint, we hope to find the set of genes that control the stress process, and then we can use that information to develop crops that can withstand the entire pollen development phase without suffering from heat stress,” he adds.

Begcy’s research focuses on different plant stressors, such as heat, drought and salinity, and considers the molecular level in identifying potential genetic resiliency markers.

The team has already conducted preliminary research that showed when heat is introduced at an earlier stage of pollen development, the pollen does not germinate or grow properly. 

The four-year project is newly underway, with completion anticipated in April 2027. It is supported by a $650,000 grant from the United States Department of Agriculture’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture.

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