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Drought tolerance and transgenic traits – Audio

Drought tolerance and transgenic traits

Joe Lauer Extension Corn Agronomist
Department of Agronomy
UW-Madison College of Agricultural and Life Sciences
(608) 263-7438
(608) 262-1390

3:09 – Total time
0:15 – What’s new
0:41 – Yield enhancing vs protecting
1:14 – The difference
1:49 – Where the trait comes from
2:28 – Who will DroughtGard help
2:59 – Lead out


Sevie Kenyon: Looking at some new corn hybrid technology we’re visiting today with Joe Lauer, Department of Agronomy, University of Wisconsin-Madison/Extension in the College of Agricultural and Life Sciences and I’m Sevie Kenyon. Joe, what are you seeing that is new in these corn hybrids this season?

Joe Lauer: Well last year we saw for the first time a brand new transgenic trait that has a lot of potential, it’s called DroughtGard. We had it in 11 different hybrids this past year and three of them were star, which means that they were not statistically different from the top yielding hybrid in a trial. And that’s always a good sign that a trait is off to a good start on performing well. This particular trait is what I would call more like a yield enhancing trait than the traits we currently have available to us. The ones we have available are what I call yield protecting traits, things that we can control insects with, control weeds with more easily. They don’t necessarily add to yield but they allow us to keep some of the pests that corn plants commonly encounter at bay a little bit better.

Sevie Kenyon: Joe, you called this new trait your first yield enhancing, can you explain the difference with this new trait compared to other traits we’ve had?

Joe Lauer: Well, corn is one of those crops where we’ve always seen yield progress nearly every year. Typically, on average, we’re gaining about one and half to two bushels per acre per year. What this particular trait, what’s called DroughtGard, what it does is that when the plant encounters water stress, either during a drought or at some point during the life cycle of the plant these genes will kick in and basically alleviate the stress that these plants will encounter.

Sevie Kenyon: Joe, can you explain where this trait was found and where it comes from?

Joe Lauer:  Yes the trait comes from a very common bacteria called Bacillus subtilis, four genes were basically used in this particular trait; each one kind of modifies the physiology of the plant a little bit differently. Drought is not really a single trait gene, there are a lot of different genes that modify and allow the plant to adapt to and perform well under drought and this bacteria usually is more prevalent under stress situations.

Sevie Kenyon: Joe, what kind of grower profile would most benefit by this kind of DroughtGard technology?

Joe Lauer: Typically, the site that is usually most stressful, for water anyway, are usually sandier soils. They’re the ones that will typically run out of water more quickly than a silt loam or a clay kind of a soil and so growers that have sandier fields and or soils that are fairly shallow and don’t hold a lot of water these might be places for these kinds of hybrids.

Sevie Kenyon: We’ve been visiting with Joe Lauer, Department of Agronomy, University of Wisconsin-Madison/Extension in the College of Agricultural and Life Sciences and I’m Sevie Kenyon.