Food Safety Research Information Office
Title:Enhancing Corn with Resistance to Aflatoxin Contamination and Insect Damage
Objective:Identify and develop corn germplasm with resistance to Aspergillus flavus infection/aflatoxin contamination and ear-feeding insects and release this germplasm together with information on molecular markers and methodology that will expedite its deployment into commercially available corn hybrids.

Specific objectives include the following:

  1. Determine the effects of indigenous fungal species and ear-feeding insects on A. flavus infection and aflatoxin accumulation in corn grain;
  2. Identify new sources of corn germplasm with resistance to A. flavus infection and aflatoxin accumulation and/or resistance to damage by southwestern corn borer, fall armyworm, and corn earworm;
  3. Identify quantitative trait loci, genes, and proteins associated with resistance in corn to A. flavus infection, aflatoxin accumulation, and insect damage;
  4. Enhance corn germplasm with resistance to A. flavus infection, aflatoxin accumulation, and insect damage and release germplasm lines as sources of resistance.
More Info:
Approach:
Objective 1. Determine the effects of indigenous fungal species and ear-feeding insects on A. flavus infection and aflatoxin accumulation in corn grain. Colonization of corn grain is rarely by a single fungal species, but rather a mixture of fungi. Fusarium verticillioides (syn. F. moniliforme) is the most commonly reported fungus infecting corn in the USA, and it is frequently found together with A. flavus. Acremonium zeae is a common contaminant of preharvest corn in the Southeast. It has been reported to suppress growth of both A. flavus and F. verticillioides in laboratory experiments. The interactions of these fungi will be investigated to determine whether F. verticillioides and A. zeae affect A. flavus infection of corn grain and the subsequent accumulation of aflatoxin, and if so, whether these fungi are impediments to the identification of aflatoxin-resistant corn germplasm. The association between insect damage and aflatoxin accumulation in different corn genotypes will be investigated and the extent to which resistance to damage by southwestern corn borer, Diatraea grandiosella; fall armyworm, Spodoptera frugiperda; or corn earworm, Helicoverpa zea, reduces aflatoxin contamination will be determined.

Objective 2. Identify new sources of corn germplasm with resistance to A. flavus infection and aflatoxin accumulation and/or resistance to damage by southwestern corn borer, fall armyworm, and corn earworm. Corn germplasm from diverse backgrounds will be screened for resistance to A. flavus/aflatoxin, southwestern corn borer, fall armyworm, and corn earworm. Information on the effects of other fungi or insects on A. flavus/aflatoxin accumulation (Objective 1) will be used to refine and improve techniques for evaluating germplasm for resistance. Newly identified sources of resistance will be used to pursue Objectives 3 and 4.

Objective 3. Identify quantitative trait loci, genes, and proteins associated with resistance in corn to A. flavus infection, aflatoxin accumulation, and insect damage. Populations of F2:3 families and recombinant inbred lines derived from crosses between aflatoxin or insect resistant inbred lines and susceptible lines will be used to identify quantitative trait loci (QTL) associated with resistance. Resistant and susceptible corn inbred lines and recombinant inbred lines will be used in complementary investigations to identify candidate genes and proteins associated resistance. Molecular markers identified in these investigations will be used in developing improved germplasm lines (Objective 4).

Objective 4. Enhance corn germplasm with resistance to A. flavus infection, aflatoxin accumulation, and insect damage and release germplasm lines as sources of resistance. Both breeding methods based on phenotypic performance and those based on molecular markers will be used to enhance germplasm with resistance to aflatoxin contamination and insect damage. The effectiveness of molecular markers based on QTL, genes, and proteins identified in Objective 3 in transferring resistance to A. flavus/aflatoxin and insect damage into germplasm lines with desirable agronomic qualities will be determined.
Funding Source:United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), Agricultural Research Service (ARS)
Type:Appropriated
Start Date:2008
End Date:2013
Project Number:6406-21000-011-00
Accession Number:412885
Institutions:USDA/ARS - Mid South Area
Investigators:Hawkins, Leigh
Henry, Brien
Warburton, Marilyn
Williams, William
Windham, Gary
Windham, William
Published Journal
Articles USDA
ARS (NP 108):
Comparison of inoculation methods for evaluating maize for resistance to Aspergillus flavus infection and aflatoxin accumulation
Williams WP, Alpe M, Windham GL, Ozkan S, Mylroie JE .
Int J Agron. 2013 Oct;:Art ID: 972316.
Phenotypic and genetic characterization of a maize association mapping panel developed for the identification of new sources of resistance to Aspergillus flavus and aflatoxin accumulation resistance
Warburton ML, Williams WP, Windham GL, Murray S, Xu W, Hawkins LK, Franco J .
Crop Sci. 2013 Sep 27;53(6):2374-83.
Genome-wide association analysis for non agronomic traits in maize under well-watered and water-stressed conditions
Xue Y, Warburton ML, Sawkins M, Zhang X, Setter T, Xu Y, Grudloyma P, Gethi J, Ribaut JM, Li W, Zhang X, Zheng Y, Yan J.
Theor Appl Genet. 2013 Aug;126(10):2587-96.
Confirming quantitative trait loci for aflatoxin resistance from Mp313E in different genetic backgrounds
Willcox M, Davis G, Warburton ML, Windham GL, Abbas HK, Betran J, Holland JB, Williams WP.
Mol Breed. 2013 Jun;32(1):15-26.
A two-dimensional proteome map of the aflatoxigenic fungus Aspergillus flavus
Pechanova O, Pechan T, Rodriguez J, Williams WP, Brown A.
Proteomics. 2013 May;13(9):1513–8.
Natural variation in the sequence of PSY1 and frequency of favorable polymorphisms among tropical and temperate maize germplasm
Fu Z, Chai Y, Zhou Y, Yang X, Warburton ML, Xu S, Cai Y, Zhang D, Li J, Yan J.
Theor Appl Genet. 2013 Apr;126(4):923-35.
Foliar herbivory triggers local and long distance defense responses in maize
Ankala A, Kelley RY, Rowe DE, Williams WP, Luthe DS.
Plant Sci. 2013 Feb;199-200:103-12.
Diallel analysis of diverse maize germplasm lines for resistance to aflatoxin accumulation
Henry WB, Windham GL, Rowe DE, Blanco MH, Murray SC, Williams WP.
Crop Sci. 2013 Jan 9;53(2):394-402.
Genome-wide association study dissects the genetic architecture of oil biosynthesis in maize kernels
Li H, Peng Z, Yang X, Wang W, Fu J, Wang J, Han Y, Chai Y, Guo T, Yang N, Liu J, Warburton ML, Cheng Y, Hao X, Zhang P, Zhao J, Liu Y, Wang G, Li J, Yan J.
Nat Genet. 2013 Jan;45(1):43-50.
Characterization of genetic diversity and linkage disequilibrium of ZmLOX4 and ZmLOX5 loci in maize
De La Fuente GN, Murray SC, Isakeit T, Park YS, Yan Y, Warburton ML, Kolomiets MV.
PLoS One. 2013;84(1):e53973.
Development of a gene-based marker correlated to reduced aflatoxin accumulation in maize
Mylroie JE, Warburton ML, Wilkinson JR .
Euphytica. 2013;194:431-41.
The maize rachis affects Aspergillus flavus spread during ear development
Magbanua Z, Williams WP, Luthe D .
Maydica. 2013;58(2):182-8.
Comparison of different inoculating methods to evaluate the pathogenicity and virulence of Aspergillus niger on two maize hybrids
Windham GL, Williams WP.
Phytoparasitica. 2012 Sep;40(4):305-10.
Tissue-specific components of resistance to Aspergillus ear rot of maize
Mideros SX, Windham GL, Williams WP, Nelson RJ.
Phytopathology. 2012 Aug;102(8):787-93.
Molecular characterization of diverse CIMMYT maize inbred lines from eastern and southern Africa using single nucleotide polymorphic markers
Semagn K, Magorokosho C, Vivek BS, Makumbi D, Beyene Y, Mugo S, Prasanna BM, Warburton ML.
BMC Genomics. 2012 Mar 25;13:113.
A maize line resistant to herbivory constitutively releases (E) -beta-caryophyllene
Smith WE, Shivaji R, Williams WP, Luthe DS, Sandoya GV, Smith CL, Sparks DL, Brown AE.
J Econ Entomol. 2012 Feb;105(1):120-8.
Identification of maize genes associated with host plant resistance or susceptibility to Aspergillus flavus infection and aflatoxin accumulation
Kelley RY, Williams WP, Mylroie JE, Boykin DL, Harper JW, Windham GL, Ankala A, Shan X.
PLoS One. 2012;7(5):e36892.
Evaluation of maize germplasm for resistance to aflatoxin accumulation
Henry WB, Windham GL, Blanco MH.
Agronomy. 2012;2(1):28-39.
Comparison of the performance of synthetic maize varieties created based on either genetic distance or general combining ability of the parents
Narro LA, Duran JF, George MLC, Arcos AL, Osorio KV, Warburton ML.
Maydica. 2012;57(1):83-91.
Gene flow among different teosinte taxa and into the domesticated maize gene pool
Warburton ML, Wilkes G, Taba S, Charcosset A, Mir C, Dumas F, Madur D, Dreisigacker S, Bedoya C, Prasanna BM, Xie CX, Hearne S, Franco J.
Genet Resour Crop Ev. 2011 Dec;58(8):1243-61.
A public platform for the verification of the phenotypic effect of candidate genes for resistance to aflatoxin accumulation and Aspergillus flavus infection in maize
Warburton ML, Williams WP, Hawkins L, Bridges S, Gresham C, Harper J, Ozkan S, Mylroie JE, Shan X.
Toxins (Basel). 2011 Jul;3(7):754-65.
Identification of novel QTL contributing resistance to aflatoxin accumulation in maize
Warburton ML, Brooks TD, Windham GL, Williams WP.
Mol Breed. 2011 Apr;27(4):491-9.
Association mapping for enhancing maize (Zea mays L.) genetic improvement
Yan J, Warburton M, Crouch J.
Crop Sci. 2011 Mar;51(2):433-49.
Belowground resistance to western corn rootworm in lepidopteran-resistant maize genotypes
Gill TA, Sandoya G, Williams P, Luthe DS.
J Econ Entomol. 2011 Feb;104(1):299-307.
Comparative analysis of the performance of Aspergillus flavus on resistant and susceptible maize genotypes during infection
Ankala A, Bolla BK, Shivaji R, Williams WP, Wilkinson JR.
Fungal Ecol. 2011 Feb;4(1):32-41.
Ear rot, aflatoxin accumulation, and fungal biomass in maize after inoculation with Aspergillus flavus
Williams WP, Ozkan S, Ankala A, Windham GL.
Field Crop Res. 2011 Jan 14;120(1):196-200.
Aboveground to belowground herbivore defense signaling in maize: a two-way street?
Luthe DS, Gill T, Zhu L, Lopéz L, Pechanova O, Shivaji R, Ankala A, Williams WP.
Plant Signal Behav. 2011 Jan;6(1):126-9.
Proteomic analysis of the maize rachis: potential roles of constitutive and induced proteins in resistance to Aspergillus flavus infection and aflatoxin accumulation
Pechanova O, Pechan T, Williams WP, Luthe DS.
Proteomics. 2011 Jan;11(1):114-27.
Genetic association mapping identifies single nucleotide polymorphisms in genes that affect abscisic acid levels in maize floral tissues during drought
Setter TL, Yan J, Warburton M, Ribaut JM, Xu Y, Sawkins M, Buckler ES, Zhang Z, Gore MA.
J Exp Bot. 2011 Jan;62(2):701-16.
Effect of matrix clean-up for aflatoxin analysis in corn and dried distillers grains
McDaniel A, Holmes WE, Williams P, Armbrust KL, Sparks DL, Brown AE.
Natural Resources. 2011;2:250-257.
An 11-bp insertion in Zea mays fatb reduces the palmitic acid content of fatty acids in maize grain
Li L, Li H, Li Q, Yang X, Zheng D, Warburton M, Chai Y, Zhang P, Guo Y, Yan J, Li J.
PLoS One. 2011;6(9):e24699.
Comparison of the side-needle and knife techniques for inducing Aspergillus flavus infection and aflatoxin accumulation in corn hybrids
Henry WB, Krakowsky MD, Windham GL, Williams WP, Scully BT, Rowe D, Hawkins LK.
Toxin Rev. 2010 Nov;29(3):123-9.
Integrated database for identifying candidate genes for Aspergillus flavus resistance in maize
Kelley RY, Gresham C, Harper J, Bridges SM, Warburton ML, Hawkins LK, Pechanova O, Peethambaran B, Pechan T, Luthe DS, Mylroie JE, Ankala A, Ozkan S, Henry WB, Williams WP.
BMC Bioinformatics. 2010 Oct 7;11(6):S25.
Proteome profile of the developing maize (Zea mays L.) rachis
Pechanova O, Pechan T, Ozkan S, McCarthy FM, Williams WP, Luthe DS.
Proteomics. 2010 Aug;10(16):3051-5.
Genetic analysis and characterization of a new maize association mapping panel for quantitative trait loci dissection
Yang X, Yan J, Shah T, Warburton ML, Li Q, Li L, Gao Y, Chai Y, Fu Z, Zhou Y, Xu S, Bai G, Meng Y, Zheng Y, Li J.
Theor Appl Genet. 2010 Aug;121(3):417-31.
Molecular marker-assisted breeding options for maize improvement in Asia
Prasanna BM, Pixley K, Warburton ML, Xie CX.
Mol Breed. 2010 Aug;26(2):339-56.
Relationship, evolutionary fate and function of two maize co-orthologs of rice GW2 associated with kernel size and weight
Li Q, Li L, Yang X, Warburton ML, Bai G, Dai J, Li J, Yan J.
BMC Plant Biol. 2010 Jul 14;10:143.
Rare genetic variation at Zea mays crtRB1 increases beta-carotene in maize grain
Yan J, Kandianis CB, Harjes CE, Bai L, Kim EH, Yang X, Skinner DJ, Fu Z, Mitchell S, Li Q, Fernandez MG, Zaharieva M, Babu R, Fu Y, Palacios N, Li J, Dellapenna D, Brutnell T, Buckler ES, Warburton ML, Rocheford T.
Nat Genet. 2010 Apr;42(4):322-7.
Toward a cost-effective fingerprinting methodology to distinguish maize open-pollinated varieties
Warburton ML, Setimela P, Franco J, Cordova H, Pixley K, Bänziger M, Dreisigacker S, Bedoya C, MacRobert J.
Crop Sci. 2010 Apr;50:1-11.
High-throughput SNP genotyping with the GoldenGate assay in maize
Yan J, Yang X, Shah T, Villeda HS, Li J, Warburton M, Zhou Y, Crouch JH, Xu Y.
Mol Breed. 2010 Mar;25(3):441-51.
Aflatoxin accumulation and kernel infection of maize hybrids inoculated with Aspergillus flavus and Aspergillus parasiticus
Windham GL, Hawkins LK, Williams WP.
World Mycotoxin J. 2010 Feb 9;3(1):89-93.
Plants on constant alert: elevated levels of jasmonic acid and jasmonate-induced transcripts in caterpillar-resistant maize
Shivaji R, Camas A, Ankala A, Engelberth J, Tumlinson JH, Williams WP, Wilkinson JR, Luthe DS.
J Chem Ecol. 2010 Feb;36(2):179-91.
Cloning and characterization of a putative GS3 ortholog involved in maize kernel development
Li Q, Yang X, Bai G, Warburton ML, Mahuku G, Gore M, Dai J, Li J, Yan J.
Theor Appl Genet. 2010 Feb;120(4):753-63.
Nucleotide diversity and molecular evolution of the PSY1 gene in Zea mays compared to some other grass species
Fu Z, Yan J, Zheng Y, Warburton ML, Crouch JH, Li JS.
Theor Appl Genet. 2010 Feb;120(4):709-20.
Aflatoxin accumulation in BT and non-BT maize testcrosses
Williams WP, Windham GL, Krakowsky MD, Scully BT, Ni X.
J Crop Improv. 2010;24(4):392-9.
Genetic characterization and linkage disequilibrium estimation of a global maize collection using SNP markers
Yan J, Shah T, Warburton ML, Buckler ES, McMullen MD, Crouch J.
PLoS One. 2009 Dec 24;4(12):e8451.
Integration of ethylene and jasmonic acid signaling pathways in the expression of maize defense protein Mir1-CP
Ankala A, Luthe DS, Williams WP, Wilkinson JR.
Mol Plant Microbe Interact. 2009 Dec;22(12):1555-64.
Diallel analysis of fumonisin accumulation in maize
Williams WP, Windham GL.
Field Crop Res. 2009 Nov 10;114(2):324-6.
Aspergillus flavus biomass in maize estimated by quantitative real-time polymerase chain reaction is strongly correlated with aflatoxin concentration
Mideros SX, Windham GL, Williams WP, Nelson RJ.
Plant Disease. 2009 Nov;93(11):1163-70.
Evaluation of maize inbred lines for resistance to Aspergillus and Fusarium ear rot and mycotoxin accumulation
Henry WB, Williams WP, Windham GL, Hawkins LK.
Agron J. 2009 Sep;101(5):1219-26.
Identification and mapping of new sources of resistance to aflatoxin accumulation in maize
Warburton ML, Brooks TD, Krakowsky MD, Shan X, Windham GL, Williams WP.
Crop Sci. 2009 Jul;49(4):1403-8.
A naturally occurring plant cysteine protease possesses remarkable toxicity against insect pests and synergizes Bacillus thuringiensis toxin
Mohan S, Ma PW, Williams WP, Luthe DS.
PLoS One. 2008 Mar 12;3(3):e1786.
Fall Armyworm (Lepidoptera: Noctuidae) and Southwestern Corn Borer (Lepidoptera: Crambidae) leaf feeding damage and its effect on larval growth on diets prepared from lyophilized corn leaves
Williams W, Buckley PM.
J Agr Urban Entomol. 2008 Jan;25(1):1-11.
Identifying maize germplasm with resistance to aflatoxin accumulation
Williams W, Krakowsky MD, Windham GL, Balint-Kurti P, Hawkins LK, Henry W.
Toxin Rev. 2008;27(3):319-45.
Non-journal publications:
Registration of Mp718 and Mp719 germplasm lines of maize - (Germplasm Registration)
Williams, W.P., Windham, G.L. 2012. Registration of Mp718 and Mp719 germplasm lines of maize. Journal of Plant Registrations. 6:200-202.
Aflatoxin Accumulation in Commercial Corn Hybrids Artificially Inoculated with Aspergillus flavus in 2008 and 2009 - (Experiment Station)
Daves, C., Windham, G.L., Williams, W.P. 2010. Aflatoxin accumulation in commercial corn hybrids artificially inoculated with Aspergillus flavus in 2008 and 2009. Mississippi Agricultural and Forestry Experiment Station Research Report. Vo. 24, No. 9. 6 p.
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