Scientists find genomic regions associated with better quality stover traits in maize for animal feed

Researchers from the International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center (CIMMYT) and the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI) have identified new genomic regions associated with maize stover quality, an important by-product of maize which can be used in animal feed.

The results of the study, published this month in Nature Scientific Reports, will allow maize breeders to select for stover quality traits more quickly and cost-effectively, and to develop new dual purpose maize varieties without sacrificing grain yield.

The results demonstrate the feasibility of incorporating genomic prediction as a tool to improve stover traits, circumventing the need for field or lab-based phenotyping. The findings significantly reduce the need for additional testing resources — a major hindrance in breeding dual-purpose maize varieties.  Interestingly, the researchers found that increased animal feed quality in maize stover had no impact on grain yield, a concern raised by scientists in the past.

The publication of the study is a fitting tribute to the late Michael Blummel, who was a principal scientist and deputy program leader in the feed and forage development program at ILRI and co-author of this study.

'A couple of years back Dr Blummel relocated from the Hyderabad office at ILRI to its headquarters at Addis Ababa, but he used to frequently visit Hyderabad, and without fail met with us on each visit to discuss updates, especially about dual-purpose maize work. He was very passionate about dual-purpose maize research with a strong belief that the additional income from maize stover at no additional cost will significantly improve the income of maize farmers,' Zaidi said, a maize physiologist at CIMMYT and co-author of the study. 'Michael was following this publication very closely because it was the first of its kind in terms of molecular breeding for dual purpose maize. He would have been very excited to see this published.'


Read the publication and original post by CIMMYT

Other materials include:

Blümmel, M., Samireddypalle, A., Zaidi, P., Vadez, V., Ramana R.Y. and Janila, P. 2020. Multidimensional crop improvement by ILRI and partners: Drivers, approaches, achievements, and impact. IN: McIntire, J. and Grace, D. (eds.). The impact of the International Livestock Research Institute. Nairobi, Kenya: ILRI and Wallingford, UK: CABI: 480-506

Blümmel, M., Zaidi, P.H., Vinayan, M. and Raman, B. 2016. Discovery to delivery: Livestock and Fish – Maize CRP Collaboration on dual purpose maize hybrids. Presented at the ILRI Institute Planning Meeting, Nairobi, 4-7 October 2016. Nairobi, Kenya: ILRI.

Michael Blümmel obituary 

For more information on ILRI's role, contact Chris Jones

For more  information on CIMMYT's role, contact Pervez Zaidi