Radioactive Tracking Helps Gain Insight on How Corn Can Repair Damage from Western Corn Rootworm


In Missouri, researchers at the University of Missouri have used nuclear methods to find key information that can help breed western corn rootworm resistant corn. The rootworm is a major corn pest that eats away at the crop’s roots and can severely damage the plant. Researchers tagged auxin, a plant hormone that stimulates new root growth, and tagged an amino acid, glutamine, which helps control auxin, with radioactive tracers to see how corn plants transport and utilize auxin and glutamine. They then looked at how corn plants use auxin and glutamine to increase the root’s ability to resist attack from the rootworm and repair roots. By improving glutamine and auxin when breeding crops, scientists can create rootworm-resistant corn to minimize the damage done by the pest.