Skip to main content

T-00327: Developing Perennial Corn by Domesticating Perennial Teosinte Aided by Molecular Selection


Perennial corn could greatly reduce tillage and maintain more plant residues at the soil surface. Perennial corn could also put down deeper, bulkier root systems which would lead to more efficiency in both holding the soil in place and absorbing nutrients and water. Previous efforts of making perennial field corn have focused at transferring perennialism from the wild perennial teosinte into field corn.


Current perennial materials cannot survive the harsh winter of most areas where corn is grown. The establishment of a perennial field corn germplasm can increase the useful range of perennial corn using conventional breeding, mutagenesis and genetic transformation of winter-hardiness genes. The selection of only a very few domesticated wild corn to field corn require minimum disturbance to perennialism. Selections have been made in both the F2 and BC1 generations by positively selecting field corn alleles of genes of interest while negatively selecting their flanking markers. Hybrid-derivatives have been identified that can regrow after completing the growth-seed setting-senescence cycle and also have improved plant and ear morphology.


Perennial crops have several advantages that could increase both yield potential and economic return relative to annual crops. These perennials can take advantage of a longer growing season. Additionally, resources will not be needed to completely rebuild the root system each year. Perennials are also more drought-tolerant than annuals, can capture, retain and utilize more precipitation and have access to soil nutrient and water deeper within the soil.