The United States Department of Agriculture maintains a vast repository of over 20,000 strains of corn in a seed bank in Ames, Iowa. Collected from all over the world, these strains are a natural source of genes to enhance yield and make corn more tolerant of drought and temperature extremes. What is lacking, however, is an efficient method to screen the seed bank strains. Now, through the application of NT RECOVERYTM technology, Indian corn, open-pollinated varieties and other ancestral strains of corn can be used to address the challenge of feeding a growing population during an era of climate change.
Yield and stress tolerance are complex traits governed by multiple genes. It is critical to measure the effect of these traits in a field, rather than a laboratory environment. In practice, NT RECOVERYTM involves the use of a proprietary algorithm to survey many hundreds of individual plants growing in a practical field environment. Once a trait is identified, molecular markers (DNA fingerprints) are used to track the presence of the trait as it is transferred to a commercial line. Genetic transfer is by natural means and does not involve genetic engineering (GMO) technology.